chicken mushroom spinach lasagna

I’m hardcore – I made an Emeril recipe more complicated. I did skip a few of his steps, so maybe I’m not completely ridiculous.

It’s just that if I’m going to go through all the trouble of making lasagna, with cooking chicken, stirring béchamel, layering and baking, I might as well go all the way – homemade pasta and damn good chicken.

So there was no cooking of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a dry pan – weird, isn’t it, that I’m not a fan of dry tasteless meat. Heck no, I roasted those suckers – bone-in, skin-on, thankyouverymuch. And before that, I brined them – hey, it’s a step that takes about 2 minutes of effort and you ensure fully seasoned, moist meat. Why not do it?

But if I’m going to add homemade pasta and brined, roasted, shredded chicken to an already ambitious recipe, I probably needed to cut some corners somewhere. Since I can’t seem to convince myself to enjoy cooked spinach, I decided to skip the cooking and blanching of the spinach and just add shredded baby spinach directly to the béchamel. I wasn’t able to use quite as much, but that’s okay – it was still a colorful, healthy, easy addition.

Okay, so I guess I only skipped one little step in Emeril’s recipe. Oh wait, I also mixed all the chicken and parmesan into the sauce, so I was really only layering two things – sauce and noodles. That probably saved 30 seconds or so of effort. That’s okay, I had fun making the lasagna, and I was completely confident that the extra bit of work I put into it would give me a perfect result, and, yes, it did.

One year ago: Deli-Style Rye Bread
Two years ago: (Almost) No-Knead Bread

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Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Alfredo Lasagna (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

This is how I made the lasagna, but there are some things you could do differently. The original recipe keeps the chicken and some of the parmesan separate from the béchamel, laying pasta-béchamel-cheese-chicken instead of just alternating pasta and chickeny parmesany béchamel, like I did.

Also, the type of pasta you use is entirely up to you. You could use the no-cook dry noodles or buy fresh noodles or make your own. And I don’t know for sure that fresh homemade noodles need to be blanched for lasagna, but the one time I skipped that step was a disaster.

One more thing – the original recipes calls for double these ingredients to be layered into a 9- by 13-inch pan, but I was concerned that I’d have overflow. While my lasagna is a little on the short side, I think twice this height would have been too much for my standard 9- by 13-inch pan. But maybe the quantity of ingredients that I used would make an ideal 8- by 8-inch lasagna?

6 to 8 servings

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat and skin
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces spinach, stemmed, washed, sliced into ¼-inch ribbons
3 ounces (1½ cups) grated Parmesan, divided
fresh lasagna noodles (if homemade, use 1 egg + ⅔ cup (3.2 ounces) flour, kneaded and rolled to the
next-to-thinnest setting on a pasta roller, blanched as described here)

1. (Optional) Stir 2 tablespoons salt into 2 cups cold water until it dissolves. Add the chicken; refrigerate for 30 minutes, then remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry.

2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle-low position and heat the oven to 450ºF. Heat a small oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan; place the chicken breast in the pan skin-side down. Cook without moving until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and move the pan to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken measures 160ºF or the juices run clear when small cut is made in the chicken. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove and discard the skin (or eat it, because it’s crisp and delicious!) and shred the meat with your fingers or two forks. Decrease the oven temperature to 375ºF.

3. Béchamel: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until their liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are slightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, to make a light roux, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 minutes. Add ¾ teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, nutmeg, spinach and 2½ ounces (1¼ cups) of the Parmesan and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes, then add the shredded chicken. Taste the sauce to decide if it needs more salt. Remove the béchamel from the heat and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface until ready to assemble the lasagna.

4. Spray a 9 by 13-inch pan with nonstick spray, and spread about ¼ cup of the béchamel sauce on the bottom of the dish, avoiding any large chunks of chicken. Arrange a single layer of noodles evenly over the sauce. Then alternate layering béchamel and noodles until you run out of noodles – I was able to make 4 layers, I believe. End with the remaining béchamel and sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan.

5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for about 20 minutes, until bubbly. Let the lasagna rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Comments

  1. Branny says:

    Your changes were totally appropriate – not superfluous at all. Who wants dry, pancooked chicken? Not me. And fresh pasta? The first time I made it, my hubs swore of boxed pasta for the rest of his life (easy for him to say!). So, I back you up on this one.

  2. Siri says:

    This looks amazing! Also, your homemade lasagna sheets look perfect, what kind of dough do you use? I’m just learning to work my pasta machine, and the recipes I’ve tried so far have been less than stellar…

  3. Cara says:

    There are many recipes I read and think, “what were they thinking?” when they drew up the steps. I’m sure people read some of my recipes the same way! I probably would have skipped blanching the spinach too. Sounds like a very yummy lasagna :)

  4. Cate says:

    I am DEFINITELY going to try this, sans chicken, with fresh pasta (I don’t think I’ll ever use dry pasta again!)
    That last photo is the most perfect lasagna picture I’ve EVER seen. Amazing!

  5. This looks ah-maz-ing! YUM!!!! Your home made pasta is incredible, and all together in the last photo, I just want to eat it! I don’t care if a recipe is complicated if the results turn out like that :)

  6. Manggy says:

    Oh!! I forgot you disliked cook spinach. I like it either way, so we’re cool :) Dried lasagna out of a box his handy but is the thickest thing ever. Batali makes his own for an out-of-this-world lasagna experience (several layers, but still thin and light), you made the right call.

  7. Linda says:

    This filling reminds me of a filling I use in crepes. I think it would make a great crepe filling also. This looks really good to me because I like white sauce Italian rather than red sauce.

  8. Sarah says:

    This look lovely! If I knew a place to get fresh pasta in Bozeman, MT I would be all over it. However, I DO have a pasta maker in my kitchen arsenal and this seems like the perfect occasion to bring it out!

  9. rita says:

    this looks utterly amazing, well worth the effort.

  10. Kerstin says:

    Now that’s one gorgeous and indulgent lasagna! It looks SO good and I’m impressed your made your own pasta!

  11. I agree: your changes only made the recipe way better. It’s a divine creation. I wouldn’t be able to resist seconds!

  12. Tay says:

    It looks really good. It doesn’t come out oily does it? I haven’t made one like this, but the last time I made lasagna it came out a little oily..okay too oily for me anyway.

  13. bridget says:

    Tay – This lasagna wasn’t the least bit oily.

  14. Margaret says:

    THAT looks incredible. And did all the parts from scratch. Way to go.

  15. I can’t wait to try this…it looks so good.

  16. Zom says:

    This lasagna is out of sight amazing. You win the makingest award of the night for the homemade pasta! I went the easy, store bought route and since I’m a dork used carrots instead of mushrooms and it went swimmingly! Butter & carrots on med-high heat produce a smell that should be experienced more often in life and I only have you to thank. Even my toddler ate {some of} it!

  17. Kayla says:

    That sauce and the chicken look amazing

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