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« pasta e ceci soup | Main | falafel burgers with harissa yogurt »

chicken meatball lasagnettes with creme fraiche bechamel and chicken jus (from Barbara Lynch's Stir)

Let's get this out of the way. This is the best meal we've ever made.

You know when you make something to eat, and you know it's going to be good? But then you taste it, and it blows your mind and taste buds. And your soul?

This recipe is that something. It earned our eternal devotion to Barbara Lynch, the amazing chef and restaurant owner in Boston who is also the author of Stir. It's light, creamy, salty, savory. 

You must make this. And even if you don't make this (which you can count as the greatest mistake in your life), read the recipe, because you can see the way Chef Lynch thinks. This recipe is all about building deep, concentrated flavor. For the jus alone, you're going to cook down sixteen cups of chicken stock into two cups of dark liquid gold.

I've included our changes/shortcuts/modifications. You should buy her cookbook so you can see exactly her approach for yourself. It's a fantastic collection of great food (see her seared scallops with celery root gratinee).

This is a dish of components. This may look overwhelming, but break each element down. It's not a big deal. Make this over a couple of days. Everything keeps perfectly for a day or two or three. You'll have eaten every bite of it by day three.

chicken jus

  • 1 chicken, 7-8# (or whatever you can find) 
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly 
  • 1 carrot, chopped roughly 
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped roughly 
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped. Roughly if you feel like it. 
  • 2 c dry white wine 
  • 16 cups low-sodium chicken stock (do not use regular chicken stock. You're condensing this down to 2 cups, so you want to control the salt) 
  • 1 T coriander seeds 
  • 1 T black peppercorns 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • a few fresh thyme sprigs 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Black Pepper 
Preheat your oven to 350F. Get a roasting pan ready or use a cookie sheet covered with foil (easy cleanup).

Cut off all the meat you can from the chicken. I didn't strip ours clean (wing meat, really?). I focused on the breast, thigh, and leg meat. Set the meat in the refrigerator.

Remove all the skin from the chicken. Chop up the bones a bit (you want to expose some marrow), so that you have 8-10 pieces. I chopped off the wing tips because they seemed like they'd burn in the oven.

Throw the chicken on the pan, and get it in the oven. Roast until you get golden pieces (40 minutes was good. Go longer if you want. Or shorter.) See, you're not wasting the meat you didn't pick off -- you're roasting it into deep flavor for the jus.

Throw the bones in a pot. Heat over medium-high. Add in the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic.

Keep stirring them for about 10 minutes.

Add the wine. Reduce it by half.

Add the broth, peppercorns, coriander, bay leaves, and thyme.

Reduce it over a good simmer until reduced to four cups. This may take a couple of hours. You could drink during this time.

Strain the jus through a fine strainer. Mash the broth out of the vegetables. Don't leave any of the flavor behind.

Add the broth to a smaller saucepan. Reduce to 2 cups.

Add the thyme for 2 minutes right before serving.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

chicken meatballs

  • chicken meat from above
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped. Then chop it more finely.
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c panko
  • 8 T grated Parm
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 T chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil. Then the shallot and garlic for 8 minutes. You want them really tender but not browned. Take the pan off the heat.

In a small bowl, add the panko and cream together. Stir. Leave it alone to think about what comes next.

Grind the meat in a food processor until chopped finely. Dump it in a bowl. Add everything left on the list, along with 1 tablespoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix together. Gently add the panko mixture.

Chef Lynch suggests frying a small bit of the meat as a patty in a skillet. Taste for seasoning (we needed more salt).

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Form 3/4 inch meatballs and place on the sheet. Don't let them touch each other. Bake for 8 minutes or so. Ours needed to go for another 90 seconds.

creme fraiche bechamel

  • 4T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 c creme fraiche
  • white pepper (yes, you could use black, but it's not the same)
Melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 5-8 minutes. It's going to smell nutty, but don't let it get very dark.

Add the milk, cream, and 1 teaspoon of salt. You could cook this for 7 minutes, but ours set up like glue in 2 minutes, and we thinned it out with a bit of milk and cooked it for the rest of the time.

Take it off the heat. Stir in the creme fraiche. Taste it. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Push the salt a tiny bit, especially if you're afraid of salt.


  • Flat fresh pasta sheets; make your own (you're so fancy, aren't you?) or buy it like we did (could you use lasagna noodles here? Probably so. Don't let the lack of fresh pasta stop you from making this. But try to find fresh. Try really hard.)
Heat a pot of water to boiling. Salt it.

Cut 4-inch rounds out of the raw pasta. Keep the scraps for another pasta dish.

Cook for 3 minutes. Plunge into an ice bath. Dry each piece.

to assemble the awesome

Heat the oven to 300.

On a baking sheet, place down parchment or a Silpat and spray a tiny bit of vegetable oil on top. This stuff will stick like a mother, and you don't want it to fall apart at the very end.

Lay down a round of pasta. Cover with 1 tablespoon of bechamel. Cover with 3-4 meatballs. Lay down another bit of pasta. Meatballs. Bechamel. Pasta. Meatballs. Bechamel. Pasta. Stack it as high or as low as you want. You could cut the meatballs in half, but don't.

Place a tablespoon of water on the baking pan. It'll steam a bit. Bake for 15 minutes. Maybe a little less.

Use two spatulas to pick up the lasagnettes. Place them in a shallow bowl.

Spoon jus over the top. Spoon some around the base.

Top with some shaved Parm.

Sit down somewhere quiet. Use a big spoon. Get every component in that first bite. Savor. Pay attention to everything that's happening in your mouth.

When all the lasagnette is gone, go ahead and tip the bowl into your mouth. Don't let a bit of the jus go to waste.

Isn't it brilliant?

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  • Response
    Response: bestessays
    Great job, the peche blog has been sharing points about chicken meatball lasagnettes with crème frainche bechemel and chicken jus. Thank you for updating points and tips and sharing with us.
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    I think this would be too tasty to live on this planet
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Reader Comments (8)

This looks and sounds amazing. I do a fairly simple ground chicken meatball recipe that is very good...this sounds ten times better. But a LOT of work! I'm putting it on my "to try" list. Great blog!

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

@Karen - These meatballs are spectacular. The combo of the panko and cream makes them light and rich at the same time (which I thought was impossible). You could always buy pre-ground chicken and the meatballs themselves are a snap if you make them by themselves. Let us know how it goes!

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Pêche

Sounds delicious!

September 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPretty. Good. Food.

This is such a simple yet massively sophisticated little meal. I am so glad you are sending me your stuff on SU. Keep it coming. GREG

February 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSippity Sup

"You know when you make something to eat, and you know it's going to be good? But then you taste it, and it blows your mind and taste buds. And your soul?"

Sold. I am definitely making this and soon.

February 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShaina

You just blew my mind! For you to say it's the best meal you've ever made, that is saying something!
It does sound great and that picture is beyond tempting!

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertastesbetterwithfriends

This is insane in the very best way.

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbreadandputter

I don't care about the work. I'm pouring myself a cocktail and mixing this on up!

October 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimmy @ Lighter and Local

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