Modified from Daniel Boulud’s Chicken Lasagna
I have to warn you straight up about this recipe – it is incredibly rich. Not rich as in “I always fly first class.” Not rich as in “We fly our own plane and have a time-share ski cabin in Aspen.” It’s rich like “Please have the pilot ready to fly us to our villa in Modena – Chef Massimo Bottura at Osteria Francescana is preparing a special meal for my birthday.”
Ok, I have no idea how rich that is. However I do know that this lasagna has over a pound of cheese, a quart of creamy milk, and plenty of olive oil and butter in it. The chicken, spinach, and mushrooms barely manage to provide a contrast to the decadent mouth-feel of such full fats – but they do manage!
Needless to say, this is not a meal you will have every week, or even every month. But if you’re having a special occasion, worthy of flying to Italy for a meal, consider this instead. Unless, of course, your pilot is waiting.
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (mixed varieties of wild mushrooms are recommended), trimmed and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces spinach leaves, washed, stems removed
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup gluten-free flour for thickening (such as rice flour or tapioca flour)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups milk (full-fat)
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- nutmeg, to taste
- 16 gluten-free lasagna noodles*
- 1 pound fontina cheese, cut into small dice
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
*Non-pasta eaters can omit the noodles and make this a casserole of chicken, mushrooms and cheese. Noodle alternatives, such as sliced zucchini, might be a good substitute.
In a large Dutch oven, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook, stirring, until translucent (about 3 minutes). Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach has wilted and the mushrooms are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pot and set aside.
Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the same pot, over medium heat. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper, and add to the melted butter. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is almost cooked through, but do not brown (about 6 minutes). Add the wine and simmer until almost completely reduced. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Sprinkle the flour in the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for a few minutes. Gradually stir in the cream and milk, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any cooked flour. If necessary, use a whisk to break up any lumps. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until the liquid has thickened to a gravy-like consistency (about 5 minutes). Remove 1 cup of the white sauce from the pan and reserve for later. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the reserved cooked vegetables, mushrooms, chicken, and chopped parsley. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. (Keep in mind that the cheese will add salt, so be sparing when seasoning.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles to just short of the time listed on the package directions; the noodles should be not quite cooked through (al dente). Strain the noodles in a colander, then rinse with cold water. Drain, then toss the noodles with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a large, deep baking pan (9 x 13). Place a layer of 4 noodles on the bottom of the pan, overlapping slightly. Top with 1/3 of the chicken mixture, then 1/3 of the diced fontina. Repeat the layering twice, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread the reserved white sauce on the noodles, and sprinkle with Parmesan. (At this point, the lasagna can be refrigerated overnight, covered tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Return to room temperature at least 30 minutes before cooking.)
Cover the lasagna tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 400F, remove the foil, and continue to bake until golden brown and bubbling (10-15 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve with a salad with a tart-acidic dressing since the lasagna is very buttery. Enjoy!
Rich…but yummy indeed! Two new releases from old favorites today. First up, the late, great Townes Van Zandt with Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972. This is early Townes, but like all his work, its funky, perceptive and moving, all at once. Contains a few new songs to boot!
Peter Stampfel is a nut. In the nicest way possible, of course. Leader of the ’60s folk/rock legends The Holy Modal Rounders, his newest release is The Sound of America. Stampfel continues his love affair with the forgotten avenues of American music with his band The Ether Frolic Mob, which features his daughter Zoe. Everything from Charlie Patton blues to “Drunken Banjo Waltz” and the best version of “I Will Survive” you ever experience and many more! Long live Peter Stampfel!