Butternut Squash and Barbeque Charred Chicken Lasagna

Trying to deny that fall is here when you still wish it were summer? You know I am. Which is why this recipe is a great meld of the two seasons. Introducing my Barbeque Charred Chicken and Butternut Squash marriage in this delicious lasagna. Perfect cold evening yummy-ness.

This recipe may sound odd but let me tell you why it works. Think about how most of the time, when you get a butternut squash ravioli for example, it is partnered with burnt butter. Why? Because the smokiness and the fat of the butter balances out the sweet of the squash. So how was I inspired? I went to my boss’s annual BBQ this past weekend and walked away with 3 large pieces of long time barbecued chicken, and started thinking about what I was going to do with my leftovers. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons salted butter
5 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded, barbecue (wood) smoked chicken (this is not chicken with BBQ sauce on it)
2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour water into the skillet, about half way up the squash, cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes. You should be able to split a squash in 2 with a spoon when it is done. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor or blender. Puree thoroughly… you don’t want lumps in this recipe. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. 

Take your chicken, and shred it into nice size chunks. Once you have 2 cups worth, add it to the sauce. Bring the sauce up to a boil again. Stir to make sure all the chicken is incorporated in the sauce. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. The reason I do this is to get the smokey flavor of the chicken thoroughly into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread a nice large spoonful of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 2 large spoonfuls of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle another large spoonful of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 4 more times. You should have 5 layers in total (my box came with 15 lasagna noodles). Its hard to be exact about how much squash puree and white sauce to put in between layers. Just make sure you eyeball what you have, and take into account the number of layers you are doing. After years of making lasagna, I have gotten to just be able to eye ball it.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Bubbly, smokey, and delicious! Time to get to grubbin :)


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