In Season: Roux the Day

Posted at 5:00 AM Dec 03, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

It's been a week, and they're still here!

Yes, I've successfully ousted my in-laws, the lingering scent of rendered turkey fat/pancetta/deep-fried sage/poorly caramelized pumpkin seeds (an ill-advised culinary experiment that went severely awry) and the giant splotch of shallot confit goo that resembled a cockroach and sat on my new tablecloth for 5 days and scared me. But I still have a shelf and a half worth of T-Day leftovers in my fridge taking up precious cheese and beer space.

What's a gal to do? I've made hash, tetrazzini, sandwiches, soups, stocks and strange salads galore. Today, I made a lasagna to scare all other hearty, leftover ingredients into submission (or at least one dish.) The recipe below is not for the wussy or the flavor-moshing afraid (if you still separate your gravy from your mashed potatoes and delicately dip dabs of it into the sauce a la my cousin Anna, you're on your own, sweet tits).

But trust me, it'll clear out the fridge and make a big platter of deliciousness (warning: there may be a few leftovers of the Leftover Lasagna).

The key to this dish is the roux - and once you master this simple leek roux you can use it in all manners of dishes, by itself on pasta, as a base for macaroni and cheese, as a quirky sandwich topper, over polenta, over baked fish and poultry, over vegetables. It's that good.  

Recipe: Leftover Lasagna: Roux the T-Day
Makes 12 servings

9 lasagna noodles (I like whole wheat)
2 T butter
4 leeks, white part only, carefully cleaned and chopped fine
¼ C flour
1 QT milk (skim actually works fine in this recipe)
1/3 C pine nuts (toast them for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven for extra flavor)
1 ½ C grated Parmesan cheese
Optional add-ons (pick at least two): 1 pound finely chopped butternut squash or some sort of squash puree you're still making your way through, 2 C leftover turkey meat (white, dark, breast, thigh, whatevs), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, stuffing, pretty much anything you're willing to put in your mouth


  • Boil noodles according to directions, shaving roughly 2 minutes off cooking time. Drain and throw back in the cooking pot - cover with cold water and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In sturdy cooking pot, melt 2 T butter on low. Add leeks, cook until translucent. Add salt and pepper if you like.
  • Add flour, whisking maniacally until you get a lovely, consistent, white gluey concoction. Whisk it a few more times.
  • Throw in the milk, continuing to whisk until your arm loses all sensation and the puppy is boiling. Whisk some more!
  • Reduce to simmer, whisking occasionally until your roux coats the back of a metal spoon and you can run your finger across the back of it and create a line (don't let it get too thick - it should still be run off the spoon in liquid, not cement form) through the roux.
  • Grab your other ingredients.
  • Pam up a dish in which you can plop your lasagna - I've used pie dishes when I've had leftovers cramming up all of my good lasagna-cookin' dishes.
  • Put down your first layer of noodles (three). Dump about ¼ of the roux mix on top. Sprinkle with one or more of your selected leftovers. Dump 1/3 of the cheese on.
  • Layer more noodles. Add another ¼ of the roux mix. Add the pine nuts. Sprinkle one or more of your selected leftovers on top. More cheese!
  • Add the final noodles. Add ¼ of the roux mix. Whatever you have left of your leftovers. The rest of the roux. The rest of your cheese.
  • Cover with foil and pop in the oven. After about 20 minutes, take a peek. If it's bubbling, remove the foil and cook for another 15 or so minutes until the cheese is beginning to brown. If it's not quite bubbling, replace the foil and check every 5 minutes or so until it does bubble, remove foil and cook until cheese is brown.
  • Your leftovers will roux the day they ever came to town and threatened your precious fridge space.
  • Eat and enjoy!



Wendy said:

Promise to never ever never write about food where we can't find you.

Pine nuts and roux. Then my options would be some juicy parts of the turkey, and uh huh oh yeah, bed those mashed potatoes right down with the lasagna noodles and leeks, please. The texture of buttered puffy mash between those slickery silky noodles. oooooahh, I'm biting my little fisted knuckles.

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