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Using Leftover Turkey or Chicken for a Lasagna With a Difference

December 03, 1987|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Making lasagna is one solution to the problem of what to do with boneless turkey and chicken pieces left over after special dinners or holiday meals.

The food processor speeds up the chopping and shredding chores, including grating mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, chopping garlic, onion, ham and tomatoes and reducing leftover boneless turkey or chicken to shreds that can be sprinkled between layers of pasta.

Chilled boneless poultry is shredded by slicing with the medium (4-millimeter) slicing disc, using a technique called slicing to shred. Shreds are produced as the poultry passes through the slicing disc, whether cut across the grain or randomly. About 4 cups of loosely packed shredded turkey or chicken, about 1 1/4 pounds, is needed for the lasagna.

In addition, a trip to the specialty food store may be required to purchase dried imported mushrooms (porcini) , Parmesan cheese and the sheets of pasta from which fresh noodles are cut. It may be necessary to order the sheets in advance, although many supermarkets sell frozen sheet pasta.

Both the Marinara Sauce and White Sauce can be made up to three days in advance, covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator. Each sauce should be reheated, then cooled to lukewarm before it is spread over the lasagna noodles.

LEFTOVER LASAGNA

1 1/4 pounds cooked boneless turkey or chicken

1 pound mozzarella cheese, chilled

1/4 pound imported Parmesan cheese, rind removed and cubed

1/4 pound baked or boiled ham, cubed

1 1/2 pounds fresh sheet pasta

2 tablespoons softened butter

White Sauce

Marinara Sauce

Insert medium (4 mm) slicing disc in processor. Place turkey or chicken pieces in food chute and slice with gentle push. Repeat to very coarsely shred all turkey (there should be 4 cups loosely packed). Set aside.

Change to medium shredding disc. Shred mozzarella with moderate push, set aside, and change to metal blade. Process Parmesan cheese until powdery and set aside. Add ham and mince with 1-second pulses. Set aside.

To cook pasta, heat water to boiling in 6-quart stockpot. Add pasta sheets one by one and boil just until tender. Transfer each to bowl of cool water.

To assemble lasagna, generously coat 5-quart (15x10-inch) baking dish with butter. Add pasta sheet. Spread 1/2 cup White Sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Top with 1 1/3 cups turkey or chicken.

Place pasta layer over turkey. Spread pasta with 1 1/4 cups Marinara Sauce. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella over sauce and 1/4 cup ham over cheese. Repeat layering, ending with pasta. Spread final 1/2 cup White Sauce over pasta, then spread remaining Marinara Sauce over. Add any remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Bake lasagna at 325 degrees 45 minutes, or until knife inserted into center is withdrawn hot. Cool 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve immediately. Makes about 15 servings.

White sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 3/4 cups milk, scalded

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

Dash grated nutmeg

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour and salt and cook over low heat about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in scalded milk until smooth. Stir over low heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes longer. Add white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cover and set aside to cool.

Marinara Sauce

3 ounces dried (porcini) mushrooms

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup mild olive oil

3 medium garlic cloves

2 medium onions

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes

Place mushrooms in medium bowl. Add water, cover, and set aside 30 minutes. Rinse mushrooms well to remove grit and sand that clings and coarsely chop any large pieces. Set aside. Strain soaking liquid through coffee filter and set aside.

With metal blade in processor, mince garlic by adding to machine with motor on. Add onions and pulse to finely chop, then transfer mixture to large saucepan. Stir in olive oil and cook over low heat until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Drain and seed tomatoes, reserving liquid. Pulse tomatoes until coarsely chopped and add to saucepan. Stir in tomato liquid, mushrooms and strained mushroom liquid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and reduces to 4 cups, about 35 to 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.

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