Posted at 5:00 AM Dec 03, 2009By Kathleen Willcox
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!