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Monday, 21 January 2013

Chicken Lasagna


LASAGNA…. Plural lasagne is a Greek origin taking its name from the pot it is cooked in,’ Lasanum’ meaning cooking pot in Latin. The word also refers to a dish made with a flat type of pasta with different sauces and baked in the oven. The recipe I have given is a very basic one. One can create endless versions of lasagna like spinach lasagna, seafood lasagna, roasted vegetable lasagna, turkey lasagna, it just keeps going.

An authentic basic lasagna has FOUR major components to make it rich and absolutely delicious.
  1. First the lasagna sheet itself. Traditionally the dough was made with semolina and water in southern Italy and flour and eggs in the northern region where semolina was not available. Now in Italy they use only durum wheat and eggs. The lasagna sheets we get in India had durum wheat and semolina.
  2. Bolognese or meat sauce for pasta originated from Bologna Italy. Its ground meat mostly beef and sausages cooked in a tomato puree and red wine. It’s just a basic sauce and we can create our own versions of it.
  3. Béchamel sauce or white sauce gives that creaminess to lasagna and also it holds each layer together. This sauce is so easy to prepare. Just butter, plain flour, whole milk and seasoning. That’s it. 
  4. Now comes everyone’s favourite. The Cheeessseeeee….Lasagna needs cheese. Without cheese??? No I can’t even imagine it. But you can control the amount of cheese that goes in it.  Traditionally, lasagna has three types of cheese in it - Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozzarella.

So I have made my version of lasagna absolutely simple, ingredients that are always available in your pantry. Remember it’s heavy on the waistline; keep it as once in a month affair.

BUON APPETITO!




You Will Need:
A loaf tin 30 cm
5 -6 Lasagna Sheets
Bread crumbs – 2 tbsp
Grated Mozzarella – as much as you want

For Bolognese Sauce:
Ground chicken – 500 g
White onions – 2 large finely chopped
Bell peppers – 1 finely chopped
Tomato Puree – 1 Cup
Chicken Stock – 1 ½ Cup
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Chopped mint and coriander – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp

Béchamel sauce:
Butter – 2 tbsp
Plain flour – 2 tbsp
Whole milk – 1 Cup
Grated Cheddar Cheese – ½ Cup
Oregano – 1 tsp
Pepper – ½ tsp
Salt to taste

The Cooking

Cook the lasagna sheets as per the instructions given on the box.

For the Bolognese sauce, heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Once hot add the chopped onions and bell peppers and sauté till golden brown. Then add the tomato puree and cook for 5 min. Add the chicken and stir well so that the chicken is fully covered with the sauce. Cook for couple of min and add the chilli powder and salt. Stir again and pour in the chicken stock and cook till the chicken is tender and the sauce comes together nice and thick. This would take around 30 min on a medium heat. Sprinkle the mint, coriander and cumin powder and stir well. It’s ok if your sauce is a bit dry but make sure the chicken has absorbed all the stock.

For the Béchamel sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the flour and keep whisking vigorously. Keep the heat on low and whisk till the flour has become crumbly and mixed with the butter. Now pour in the milk and keep whisking. The flour will dissolve in the milk and no lumps will be seen. At this stage the sauce will begin to thicken. Add the grated cheese to it and whisk well keeping the heat on low. Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper and whisk till the sauce has thickened.

How to layer
In the loaf tin put a layer of meat sauce and top it with one lasagna sheet. Now layer that with the white sauce followed by the meat sauce. Again top it with a lasagna sheet. Again layer it with white sauce followed by meat sauce topping it off with a lasagna sheet. Repeat the step till you reach the top of the loaf tin. Add a final layer of lasagna sheet and cover with grated Mozzarella and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 15 – 20 min or until the top is browned and the cheese has completely melted. 

Important pointers:

  • You can use water replacing chicken stock. The stock enhances the flavor more. 
  • Bread crumbs are optional. I add them as I like a crunchy top. 
  • I made this for two of us. Hence the loaf tin. But if you are making for a large crowd use a large baking dish and double the recipe accordingly. 

Happy Cooking!

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