8 October 2013
A few years ago my daughter was at a school friend’s place for dinner and came home raving about the Chicken Lasagna she’d had for dinner. “Chicken Lasagna” I said, no way I’d never eat Chicken Lasagna it’s just not right, lasagna is made with red meat not chicken. I asked a few friends if they’d ever had it and they said no, they were purists when it came to lasagna and it had to be made with beef/pork/veal mince the way the italians do.
I was in complete agreement until I came across this Chicken Lasagna recipe in the wonderful book by Rohan Anderson called “Whole Larder Love”. I’m late to this book as it’s been out for a while, published in 2012, I do remember it receiving rave reviews back then. It wasn’t until I took a day trip to Mornington recently and was browsing through the bookshop there that I came across it. Upon seeing the book displayed on a table, picking it up and flicking through it, my eyes settled on this Roast Chicken + Grilled Eggplant Lasagna. That was it, I had to make it for dinner that night it looked so yummy and inviting. I wasn’t disappointed, it was delicious, one of nicer lasagna’s I’ve tasted. The inclusion of eggplant melds with the chicken ragu beautifully and along with the silky pasta sheets make each biteful a velvety taste sensation.
It’s not a quick recipe to make, it is a bit of a fiddle but well worth it. I made the chicken ragu part of the dish the day before and then just had to grill the eggplant, mix the cheeses, assemble and cook.
I’ve also cooked the Ro-Atouille (Ratatouille) from “Whole Larder Love” and have been told by Brenda 13Acres on Instagram that the Quail Ragu is sublime. Here is a link to Rohan’s website Whole Larder Love and his wife’s website Hello Kate Berry which you may want to take a look at.
Recipe adapted from “Whole Larder Love” by Rohan Anderson.
Roast Chicken + Grilled Eggplant Lasagna
1 whole chicken, quartered (if you don’t know how to do this then get your butcher to do it for you).
1 box lasagna sheets
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large handful basil, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
600g ricotta cheese
750ml passata (or a tin of chopped tomatoes)
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Slice eggplants lengthwise, brush some oil onto a hot plate/ridged grill and grill until soft and brown.
In a large pot heat olive oil and brown the chicken pieces for a few minutes on each side to colour and seal. Set aside.
In the same pot, heat more olive oil and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook until softened and changed colour.
Add the wine and reduce until almost cooked out.
Pop the chicken back to the pan with the garlic and the passata. Place a lid on leaving a little gap for steam to escape and cook until the meat falls off the bone (approx 40-60 minutes). Remove the chicken from the pan and pull the meat off the bones, return to the pot and discard the bones.
Add the basil. Allow chicken mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, cheddar and parmesan cheese, loosening with some milk to a spreadable consistency.
Using a large baking dish, ladle a layer of the chicken ragu, than a layer of grilled eggplant, then lasagna, then cheese mixture. Repeat for three levels.
On top of the last layer grate over plenty of cheddar and parmesan cheese and sprinkle with pinenuts.
Bake covered with aluminium foil for 30 minutes then remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes or so until golden brown on top and lasagna sheets are soft.