White Lasagna

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On a business trip to Paris a long time ago, I was invited to “the boss’s house” for lunch. The house was a beautiful apartment above the famed Place Vendôme.

When I got there, I was awed by the formality of the at-least 18-foot ceilings, the highly polished wood floors, the posh furnishings and rugs and chandeliers, and an ornate seemingly walk-in fireplace. I felt underdressed in my work uniform of the day– an Evan Picone suit and not-too-high-heeled pumps. There were eight of us there, and in that formal atmosphere, our conversation started off a bit stiffly. That changed when we sat down to lunch at a table simply dressed with white cotton linens, and were served this white lasagne from a clear Pyrex casserole dish wrapped in a kitchen towel! Comfort food! Informal made elegant with a green salad, a glass of wine and a small tray of pastries passed for dessert. We chatted away, and lingered over that comforting menu. That was the day that I realized that the right atmosphere can be created by the right food choices—a great lesson for all of us who like to cook and have people to our table.

White Lasagne

Serves 8

Ingredients:

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6 medium shallots, minced
1 stick unsalted butter
½ C flour
4 cups milk
1 C chicken stock
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
½ C Marsala wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese, divided
12 no-boil lasagna sheets

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and cook the shallots for a few minutes until they are tender. Sprinkle the flour over and stir, cooking over low heat for about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and chicken stock and whisk the mixture while you bring it to a boil. Just when it boils, lower the heat and simmer over low heat until the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This only takes a minute or 2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chicken, Marsala, salt, pepper and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Taste and correct the seasoning.

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Spread enough of the sauce just to cover the bottom of a rectangular baking dish. Lay three lasagna sheets over the sauce. Repeat the layering three more times, and then top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle over the remaining ½ cup of cheese. Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until bubbling at the edges and browned on top. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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