Traditional meat lasagne, made with a rich beef ragu, is a much loved favourite of Hungry Hubby’s (as documented here) but it’s not the sort of meal you want on a hot summer day. I mean, it is the sort Hungry Hubby wants, but there would never be a day he wouldn’t want a towering tall slab of soft pasta sheets interspaced with layers of tomato and beef ragu, creamy white sauce and topped with a layer of blistered cheese. If you too need to satisfy a lasagne lover in the heat of summer, may I point you towards my Chicken and Pea Lasagne.
For this recipe, I buy boneless and skinless chicken thighs and mince them myself. In the UK, you can’t buy chicken already minced (please correct me if I’m wrong) so I use this fantastic attachment for my KA that my best friend gifted me earlier this year – the KitchenAid Food Mincer. It works a charm and I can’t recommend it enough (this is an affiliate link). One pass through on the coarse setting and I was good to go. If you haven’t got this a mincer then I would cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and pulse, cautiously, in the food processor until you have a texture similar to mince. Just be ginger about how long you hold down the pulse button, or you’ll end up with chicken paste! There is a little red wine and of course, tomatoes in the meat sauce but the flavourings move away from the beef ragu I usually make to bring out the flavour of the chicken, not mask it. I use leeks, sage and garden peas and it works a charm. The peas give a little sweetness and either fresh or frozen work perfectly. I think I will add a little dired mint to the herbs next time to make them sing a little more. We love the pop of juicy cherry tomatoes that burst in your mouth when baked on top of our lasagnes and whilst I usually go for a hard cheese to grate on top, here I shred a ball of fresh mozzarella (which I first wrap in kitchen roll for 10-15 mins to get the excess moisture out of it before baking) and it gives a beautifully milky cheesy vibe. Our favourite (if not exactly Italian) on a beef lasagne is grated Double Gloucester but that would be too much for the chicken. I can’t tell you how happy Hungry Hubby was when I created this as it marries his two most favourite foods in the world – lasagne and chicken!
One last recommendation – this Mason Cash Perfect Lasagne Dish is genuinely utterly perfect to make lasagnes in. It fits dried lasagne sheets perfectly without having to attempt to break them cleanly to fit your dish (which never works!) and it has lovely tall sides to fit plenty of generous layers into your lasagne. Which is exactly the way we love ours.
- 550g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bay leave
- 2 leeks, finely sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 60ml red wine
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 can of tomatoes
- 200g fresh or frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to season
- Worcestershire sauce to season
- 2 tbsp soft butter
- 2 tbsp plain white flour
- Lots of grated nutmeg (about 20 scratches on a grater should do)
- Black pepper
- One bay leaf
- 450ml milk (semi or full fat work best but you can do it with skim if that's what you have in)
- 1 ball of mozzarella ripped into shreds and strands and scattered over the top
- 24 cherry tomatoes to put on top
- Oregano, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce to sprinkle
- 2-3 tbsp grated parmesan to sprinkle on the last layer
- 12 dried lasagne sheets
- Firstly mince the chicken if it isn't already minced. I use the grinder/mincer attachment on my KitchenAid with the coarse plate. One pass is enough. If not, cube the chicken into 1 inch chunks then pulse in the food processor cautiously, stopping before it becomes a paste.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the bay leaf and leeks (always remember to wash them thoroughly to get rid of any dirt when using leeks). Cook until softened and translucent over a low heat for about 10 minutes - I like to cover them to encourage this to happen faster.
- When the leeks are softened, mince the garlic then add to the pan. Cook briefly then follow with the minced chicken turning the heat up to medium. Stir well and cook until no raw chicken is evident - it won't brown very much but that's ok.
- Add the dried oregano and sage then pour in the wine, and reduce only briefly before adding all the tomatoes (canned, sauce and purée). Stir in your peas (no need to defrost if using frozen) and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce reduced a little. If it looks too thick add a splash of water. Season with plenty of cracked black pepper, a little salt and around 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce.
- Meanwhile make your white sauce by melting the butter and stirring in the flour over a medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the nutmeg and black pepper then dribble in the milk very slowly, whisking all the time. Once it is all added then continue to cook until it thickens and feels heavier on the whisk - usually around 5 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180˚C and make sure the oven shelf will have the lasagne in the centre of the oven to avoid burning the top before it is heated through and the pasta cooked.
- To assemble, layer a quarter of the chicken into a deep lasagne dish, top with three lasagne sheets and a quarter of the white sauce. Repeat until all used up and then top with the shredded mozzarella, stud with cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with extra oregano, black pepper and a little sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce followed by grating over a light covering of parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 35 minutes until piping hot all the way through and allow to stand for a minimum of 20 minutes before serving. A large salad and some focaccia or garlic bread (have you seen my garlic dough balls?) alongside are essential in the Apple Chapel!
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