Lasagna with Chicken, Wild Mushrooms, and Fontina Cheese
I felt a decidedly cool nip in the air this morning, as I dropped my daughters off at school, and thought I might make something a little more nourishing for dinner than the usual Summer fare we had been living off for the past couple of months.
I was not ready to embrace a full bodied, red meat kind of flavour so I thought using poultry in a typical meat dish might do the trick.
The tastes are very similar to a chicken & mushroom pie, delicious, nourishing and great in cold weather. I find great delight in the combination of chicken, onion & celery, add some wild mushrooms into the mix and you have a wonderful ‘woodsy’ flavour.
A great recipe if you are in need of some comfort food and want an alternative to your traditional lasagne.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
453 grams/1 pound fresh wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, black trumpet, or hen of the woods, also called maitake), trimmed, washed, and roughly chopped
226 grams/ ½ pound spinach leaves, stems removed, washed
4 tablespoons butter, plus extra to grease your dish
907 grams/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into approximately ½-inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups milk
½ bunch Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
18 dried lasagna noodles
454 grams/1 pound Fontina cheese, cut into small dice
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high, and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then add the spinach with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted and mushrooms are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pot, drain any liquid and reserve.
Add the butter to the same pot, and adjust the heat to medium. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper, and add to the melted butter. Stir until the chicken is almost cooked through but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly – allow the flour to coat the chicken and absorb the liquid. Gradually stir in the cream and milk, scraping the pot to release any cooked flour from the bottom and sides (if necessary, stir with a whisk to break up any lumps). Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, allowing the liquid to thicken. With a spoon or ladle, reserve 1 cup of liquid. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the cooked vegetables and mushrooms. Add the chopped parsley. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 f. Butter a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Place a layer of 6 noodles on the bottom, overlapping them slightly. Top with one third 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 with Parmesan. (At this stage, the lasagna can be refrigerated overnight. Cover tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.) Cover with aluminum foil or a lid and bake for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 400 f, remove the foil, and continue to bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Notes: Given that the price of wild mushrooms can be a little prohibitive at times, there is no reason why you cannot use your ordinary button mushrooms.
Wine Pairing: a full bodied white