Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Lasagna with Spinach, Mushrooms & Fontina Cheese

This is probably one of the best lasagnas I've ever tasted- and certainly, the best recipe I have tried. I pulled it out of Elle Decor magazine of all places! This recipe is not quick, by any means; there is mucho mucho chopping! But, I think the time you put into it is well worth the end result! One suggestion is to buy as many of the veggies pre-chopped as you can!
A few changes I made to the original recipe- I used chicken breast meat instead of thighs (I don't care for dark meat) and I substituted chicken broth in place of wine. Also, I only bought 1/2 lb of fontina, but I had some shredded mozzarella in the fridge- the two cheeses combined worked great!
This recipe makes quite a bit, so, I made two 8X8 lasagnas instead of one 9X13. We ate one that night and I froze the other! Worked out perfectly!

5 Tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 lb mushrooms (I used button & baby bellas), roughly chopped
9 oz bag of spinach leaves, chopped
4 Tbl butter
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small 1/2 inch pieces
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. milk
1/2 bunch Italian parsely leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
16 dried lasagna noodles
1 lb fontina cheese, diced (fontina is so soft, it's doesn't "shred" well)
1 c. grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large pot, heat 3 Tbl of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt & pepper and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, another 3 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and cook until spinach is wilted and mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle again with salt. Remove veggies from pot and set aside.

Add the butter to the same pot, and adjust heat to medium. Season the cut chicken with salt and pepper and add to the melted butter. Cook, stirring, until chicken is almost cooked through but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely reduced. Sprinkle flour over the chicken, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, allowing the flour to coat the chicken and absorb the liquid. Gradually stir in the milk and cream, scraping the pot to release any cooked flour. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, allowing the liquid to thicken. With a ladle, reserve 1 cup of the liquid (no chicken) and set aside. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the cooked veggies and mushrooms. Add the chopped parsley, Season with nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste.

To Assemble:
Cook the lasagna noodles for 8 minutes only in a boiling pot of salted water (they should be al dente so that they do not turn into over-cooked mush once in the oven).  Drain the noodles and toss with remaining olive oil to prevent sticking.

Grease a 9X13" pan. Place a layer of 4 noodles on the bottom, overlapping them slightly.  Top with one third of the of the chicken mixture, then one third of the diced fontina. Repeat layering twice, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread the reserved sauce on the noodles and then sprinkle the Parmesan on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Increase oven heat to 400F and remove foil. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Once you remove lasagna from oven let sit at least 10 minutes! If you don't, the lasagna will be loose and wiggly and difficult to get on the plate in one nice, square piece! Serve with a crusty bread! Enjoy!

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