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White Lasagna with Chicken, Spinach and Bechamel Sauce


3 lbs chicken legs and thighs
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and minced

 

Ricotta and Spinach Filling

1 lb frozen spinach, thawed, drained well, chopped

2 cups ricotta cheese (about 1 pound)

1 cup cottage cheese, drained well
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


White Sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups milk
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper
6 bay leaves
1 tsp fennel seed, roasted and crushed
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 lb lasagna noodles

2 - 4 cups mozzarella cheese, or whatever cheese you like, grated (I used cheese curds cause I had 'em)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the meat from the bones, dice and set aside.
 

In a 3 quart sauce pan add the milk, bay leaves, fennel, white pepper and salt, place over medium low heat.  Bring to a slow boil then turn down heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. 

Once 20 minutes has elapsed, remove from heat and set aside to let cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves from the milk after it has cooled.

Place spinach, ricotta, cottage cheese, and the parmesan cheese in a medium size bowl. Mix together well, set aside.

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and cook until it stops foaming. Add, onions and garlic, sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the flour to the hot butter and onions, stirring well.  Cook for 3 minutes, continue stirring to prevent scorching. You now have made a roux! Remove from heat.

Add the hot milk (bay leaves removed right?) slowly to the roux, whisking steadily. 

Once all the milk has been whisked in, place pot back on stove over medium heat, add the cheese and nutmeg then cook, stirring continuously, until mixture comes to a boil, then lower heat. 



Add cooked chicken and sausage to the sauce, cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and set aside while you cook the noodles.

Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water until they are pliable but not full cooked, al dente, about half the suggested cooking time as indicated on the box.  They will finish cooking in the oven. Once cooked to the al dente stage, remove from heat and drain. Run under cold water to cool off, drain again and set aside.

Get ready to make some magic. Note:  I used aluminum trays for this recipe as I made a large batch for freezing a few dinners.

Using 13 x 9 deep sided casserole dish, spread a thick layer of white sauce on the bottom, about 1/3 of the sauce. Then place a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce.
 

Place half of the ricotta and spinach mixture over the noodles. Cover with another layer of noodles, add white sauce. Cover with noodles.
 Repeat with the white sauce and another layer of noodles.

Add the last half of the spinach ricotta mixture. Cover with a layer of noodles. Place the remaining sauce over the last layer of noodles.

Cover the top of the lasagna with the mozzarella cheese (I used cheese curds on this one).

Cover the lasagna with foil then bake the lasagna for 20. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until bubbling.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving, to prevent 3rd degree burns when you dive into this.

Serve topped with diced fresh tomatoes or fresh parsley, or both if you are daring.

Enjoy. I know we did.

Makes two trays of lasagna. Freeze one for later.  If not freezing or feeding a lot of people, cut the recipe in half.



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