Monday, August 9, 2010

The Methodist Ladies' Chicken Lasagna Florentine

It's a glorious Monday morning here in beautiful downtown Burbank. 74 degrees (I know - shocker!), the sun is rising, and I am up, dressed, and ready for the day. Taking Dante for a W-A-L-K? Ah... No. Going outside to work in the garden? Nope. Off to the grocery store while it's still cool? Of course not! I'm sitting on my duff, waiting for the painters. Last time they were two hours late, and they said they would arrive at 7:00 this morning, which I suppose translates to sometime around 4 this afternoon. The day is totally shot.

Well, not completely. Laundry is running, dishes are washing, and here I sit, making good on my resolution to blog more often.

This is another excerpt from my current favorite read, Being Dead is No Excuse. Despite the subject material, this really is a funny cookbook written in somewhat sarcastic hyperbole (yet the truth comes in jest, you know) that strikes a chord in me. If you live in the South, these people are your neighbors.

For once, we're at a loss for words. Pecans and lasagna? But this is the quintessential Methodist death dish, and it's so good it'll kill you.

6 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breasts (about 3 medium breasts)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 can (10 3/4 ounce) cream of mushroom soup (of course.)
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1/3 cup homemade mayonnaise (I used our olive oil stuff, and it came out just as well.)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or to taste)
Butter Pecan Topping (see below)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cook the noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
  • Darin the spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels (or kitchen towels).
  • Combine the spinach, chicken, cheddar cheese, onion, nutmeg, salt, pepper, soy sauce, soup, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a large bowl; stir to blend.
  • Arrange half the lasagna noodles in a lightly greased 11 x 7 x 1 1/2-inch baking dish.
  • Spread half the chicken mixture over the noodles.
  • Repeat this procedures with the remaining noodles and chicken mixture.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Butter Pecan Topping.
  • Bake, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  • Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.
  • Serves eight.

Butter Pecan Topping

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
  • Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the pecans and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Cool completely.
Beware: this stuff is super-duperly rich, so have a side salad nearby. The spices are great though, so I would recommend following that part of the recipe rather closely, which you know is odd for me. Especially with a casserole. Mike calls it "the chicken stuff," and requests it often.

Now for a little lagniappe: the photo below was taken at Grace Church Cemetery in St. Francisville, Louisiana. The structure is in the back of the antebellum churchyard, and Mike and I were transfixed by the architecture, brickwork, and current state of ruin. My guess is that it was some sort of crypt - there was another opening on the other side - but Mike didn't seem to agree. The other entrance was below ground level and had been haphazardly covered up with a road sign by some authority, only to be pushed aside by teenagers looking for a spooky thrill.

What do you think it is? Can you imagine the stories, sordid and toe-curling, that might have occurred at this eerie kind of spot?


Gerry said...

Might the structure in the cemetery be a well house? I've seen similar structures . . .


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