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I've had my first taste in a long time of seriously cold weather during my visit to New York City this past week, and it totally got me in the mood for a filling, naughty sort of meal. Something super gloppy and cheesy...yes...like a lasagna. The problem is that I've already been gorging on everything in sight here—bagels, pizza, burgers, deli meats, and more—so when it comes to a lasagna at this point, I could do without a heart-stopping version of it (and hey, I gotta put a bathing suit back on in another week). Since I needed to pull a chicken dinner together I figured I'd try my hand at a chicken lasagna, which would be a little leaner than a pork or beef one. Now, don't click off this page. This lasagna is good—really good.
For the chicken, I used ground. Since the flavor of chicken is mild, I amped it up by mixing in ground fennel and red pepper flakes so that the chicken would mimic the flavor of pork sausage. Not to completely ruin the good thing that I had going with lean chicken, I went as low-fat as I could with the cheese: part-skim ricotta and part-skim mozzarella. For the sauce, most chicken lasagnas are milky white, with a bechamel sauce as the base. But I stuck with a simple red tomato sauce, freshened up with chopped parsley leaves.
The assembly of this lasagna is the best part. I wanted this lasagna to be quick, so no-boil noodles were a no-brainer. Also, all the ingredients go right into a skillet (a trick I learned while at America's Test Kitchen), where the noodles simmer and soften in the tomato sauce right on the stovetop. My lasagna is a bit different from their version, however, even aside from the chicken. I layered in plenty of cheese (I couldn't help it) between the noodle layers so that slices would emerge as close to a pan-baked lasagna as possible. And it is. Melty-cheesy, hearty, sausage-flavorful, on the table in under an hour, and (somewhat) guilt-free.
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