Week 3 and my third lasagne, I’ve done one beef, one veg and one chicken – next week will have to be a seafood lasagne – yum!
This chicken lasagne is actually a combination of two recipes I have published before, firstly the quick chicken breasts with cherry tomatoes and a standard béchamel.
Chicken & Black Olive Lasagne
Serves 6-8

Provençal Inspired Country Style Chicken
Serves 4

–  8 large free range chicken breasts
–  3 medium red onions, finely chopped
–  4 cloves of garlic
–  4 tbsp olive oil
–  3 tbsp butter
–  700gms ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half
–  5 sprigs thyme
–  2 bay leaf
–  30 sage leaves
–  600ml wine
–  1,5 cup stock (optional)/water
–  300gms black olives pitted
Start by heating the oil and butter in a large saucepan.  Now add the garlic, onion and finely chopped thyme.  Once the onions have begun to brown some of the oil should separate.  Move the onions to one side of the pan and place the chicken breasts on the other side.  Reduce the heat and allow the chicken to start to brown, before turning.  Now add the tomatoes, olive and bay leaf, once the tomatoes have started to break down add the wine and allow this to cook for a few minutes.  Cover the pan and allow it to cook for about 10-minutes before removing the chicken breasts – set them aside.  Allow the sauce to cook for a further 20-minutes, add some of the stock if you need to, the tomatoes should have started to break apart.  Add salt & pepper and check seasoning, before adding the chicken breasts, cut into pieces, back in with the sage leaves.  Cook for 2-minutes and then set aside.
Makes 1litre
– 1/2 onion
– 2 bay leaf
– 1 clove
– nutmeg
– 80gms butter
– 120gms flour
– 1litre full cream milk
Start by heating the milk in a heavy based saucepan.  Whilst the milk is coming up to the boil, take the half onion and attach the 2 bay leafs to it with the clove.  Add this to the milk.  Once the milk has come to the boil, switch it off and finish making the bèchamel.  This is one of the key steps because now the milk will infuse with the aromatic and woody flavours of the onion and bay leaf.
In a second heavy based pan add the butter and allow it to start melting.  Using a balloon whisk (you must use a whisk, wooden spoons work but the whisk ensures a perfect silky béchamel)  Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk vigorously till all the flour has been absorbed by the butter.  Now start by adding a ladle full of the hot milk.  Whisk this is, keep adding milk and whisking between each addition until you have a light creamy sauce.  Reserve about 100ml of milk and at the very end you can decide if you want your sauce thinner and if you do add the milk.  Your sauce should have no lumps.  Check the seasoning and keeping whisking cook it for a further 10 or so minutes.  Keep the heat low so that it does not burn or catch.  Once the béchamel is ready add a grating of fresh nutmeg to the sauce.  Press a sheet of cling wrap to the sauce whilst it stands to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
When you assemble your lasagne, start with a thin layer of white sauce at the very bottom of the dish.  Top this with a sheet of pasta and then chicken and bechamel followed by pasta again.  By doing this you will give your lasagne a bottom layer to scoop it up with.  I add grated parmesan on top of the bechamel as I make the layers.  Bake it in a hot oven, 180°C, for about 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and golden.
DO NOT FORGET:  you must let your lasagne stand for at least 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. This will allow the white sauce to hold its shape a  bit better and will make for easier cutting of the sheets.