Chicken Lasagna

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut root to tip into 1⁄4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces ground chicken, or 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, for grinding
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 15 ounces whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella
  • 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup torn or roughly chopped basil leaves
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts, thighs, or both)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the heavy cream and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick and awesome.

To make the fennel, in a separate sauté pan, combine the sliced fennel, oil, fennel seeds, and salt and sauté over medium heat until lightly caramelized. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring regularly, until the liquid has completely evaporated and the fennel is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. If it is not yet tender, add a splash of water and continue cooking a little longer. Transfer the fennel to a bowl and wipe out the pan.

Next, make the ground chicken filling. If you’re grinding the chicken yourself, cut the meat into even 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces. Working in small batches, place the chicken in your food processor and pulse to finely chop, but avoid turning it into a mousse. To cook the ground chicken, add the oil to the pan you used to cook the fennel and heat over high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, add all of the ground chicken and cook until it begins to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, salt, thyme, and oregano and stir, breaking up the chicken into small pieces. Cook until the onion and pepper are tender but still crunchy, about 10 minutes.

To make the ricotta filling, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, egg, and basil in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

To prepare the chicken “noodles,” with a very sharp knife and steady hands, slice the chicken lengthwise into the thinnest pieces you can, approximately 1⁄4 inch (6mm) thick. I can get four slices out of a breast and three out of a thigh. Using a big piece of plastic wrap and a meat hammer or the flat bottom of a pan, beat all of your cares out of the slices so that they are even thinner—about 1⁄8 inch (3mm) in thickness—and approximately three times the size. Put your pounded slices in a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt, and toss, coating every slice of chicken well.

Let’s put everything together because we’ve made it this far and may as well keep going. Right? Right! First, heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Spoon a little tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33cm) baking dish. Lay one-third of the pounded chicken slices in a layer over the sauce, letting them overlap slightly (they will shrink as they cook). Spread half of the ricotta mixture across the chicken. Top the ricotta with half of the ground chicken, half of the fennel, and more sauce. Repeat that whole process, and finally top it with the remaining chicken slices, sauce, and the mozzarella. You did it!

Bake the casserole for an hour, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. If you want it a little bit darker on the top, broil it for a couple minutes at the end. Remove the chickensagna from the oven and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes before serving with crusty bread.

What do you think?

Written by Lisa Yarde


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