Have I mentioned before how my grocery stores do not carry many of the ingredients I need for my recipes? I'm sure I have. Since I am from a city I am still shocked when I can't find something in my local grocery store. I always have a list written of ingredients to buy the next time I go home to Pittsburgh. Sometimes I know my store won't have an item but other times I'm shocked by what they don't have.
This time around I was looking for duck. I really thought they were going to have it but when I asked at the meat counter they looked at me like I was nuts. I really wanted to make a duck lasagna I found in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook but it wasn't to be. I thought about using chicken or turkey but I've had both of those in a lasagna before. I went to the poultry section and was surprised to find they had Cornish Hens. I've never cooked a Cornish hen before but I thought it might be good in this lasagna.
The hens were easy to cook and not too hard to clean. They were easy to use in place of the duck. I liked this recipe because it uses two different sauces. The meat of the dish is made with the Cornish hen, tomatoes, carrots, leeks, and red wine. This gives the dish it's classic taste. Then a Bechamel sauce is poured over the top which tastes amazing with the combination of cheeses sprinkled on top.
I thought the flavor of this lasagna was incredible. In fact, there were so many complex flavors going on that I'm not sure which one I liked the best! The bacon adds just a hint of salty goodness to the lasagna. This is a dish I would make again for company because it's a show stopper for sure
Cornish Hen Lasagna with Chianti Wine Sauce (adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook)
2 Cornish hens, seasoned, cooked, and the meat pulled off the bones
1 T. olive oil
4 leeks, white parts only, rinsed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 t. rosemary
1 t. sage
1 c. Chianti
1 c. chicken stock
1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 t. sea salt
1 t. black pepper
1 package no bake lasagna noodles
2 c. grated cheeses (I used a combination of Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, and Asiago)
For the Bechamel Sauce:
2 c. whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
¼ t. nutmeg
½ t. salt
1 t. pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and carrots and saute for 8 minutes.
2. Add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add in the bacon, rosemary, and sage. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bacon begins to crisp.
3. Place two cups of shredded Cornish hen meat into the pan along with the wine. Raise the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the chicken broth and tomatoes then season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes.
6. Place three lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Spoon one third of the Cornish hen mixture on top and then sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese mixture. Repeat with two more layers.
7. Top the last layer with three more lasagna sheets and set aside.
8. To make the bechamel sauce heat the milk and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Small bubbles should appear around the edges of the pan.
9. In a skillet melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
10. Remove the bay leaf from the milk and then slowly whisk the hot milk into the butter and flour mixture. Whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
11. Pour the bechamel sauce over top of the lasagna, covering the top of the lasagna and letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
12. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.