Frugal Family Feast: Chicken and Ham Baked Pasta

You can make over your leftovers with a mouth-watering, cheesy masterpiece. To that end, Frugal Family Feast serves up a scrumptious chicken and ham baked pasta to feed a family of four for less than $15.

Chef Rich Matthews, instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, shared his technique with Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson. Watch the video and read on for the recipe.

The gooey goodness of chicken and ham baked pasta will leave you looking forward to having leftover roasted chicken. Or you can use a roast chicken you bought at your grocery or warehouse store.

The first part of this dish is making chicken stock from scratch to serve as a base for the sauce. You could also buy stock, but using every last bit of a roast chicken helps stretch a food budget. Chef Matthews stripped the meat from the chicken bones and then cooked the carcass in water with some vegetables and spices.

The recipe makes about 2 to 2½ quarts of stock, which freezes well. If you do freeze some, make sure you leave a little room at the top of the container before you seal it to allow the liquid to expand as it freezes.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind as you prepare this dish:

  • Don’t allow the butter to brown while you’re cooking it with the flour.
  • If you use a 9-inch square pan, you’ll have enough ingredients to create five layers.
  • This recipe uses oven-ready lasagna. It doesn’t need pre-boiling to use, so it saves time and mess.
  • Keep an eye on the dish toward the end of the baking time to make sure you get the doneness you want.
  • Let the baked pasta rest before you cut it so the layers can set.

Chicken and ham baked pasta – courtesy of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Ingredients for stock:

  • 2 chicken carcasses, meat removed and reserved.
  • 1 carrot, chopped into large pieces.
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped into large pieces.
  • 1 celery rib, no leaves, chopped into large pieces.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 6 black peppercorns.
  • 3 quarts water.

Ingredients for sauce:

  • 2 quarts chicken stock.
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour.
  • ¾ cups butter, melted.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for pasta dish:

  • 2 cups chicken meat, shredded (the dark meat from two leftover roasted chickens).
  • 1 cup ham, small dice.
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced and lightly sauteed.
  • 1 box no-boil lasagna sheets.
  • 2 cups chicken sauce.
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cut in small cubes.
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese.
  • pan spray.
  • baking dish, 9 by 9 inches.

To prepare the chicken stock:

  • Put the carcasses, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and water in a slow cooker on low. Let it cook overnight. Alternatively, put the ingredients in a pot on the stove. Set to low and let it cook slowly on the stove for up to five hours.
  • Strain the liquid and discard the vegetables and bones. Reserve any last meat that has fallen off the carcasses. You should end up with about 2 quarts of stock after the cooking is complete.
  • Reserve the stock to prepare the sauce.

To prepare the chicken sauce:

  • Warm the stock if starting this dish after it has chilled.
  • In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour.
  • Cook together three to five minutes.
  • Slowly whisk the butter/flour mixture into the warmed chicken broth and bring the entire mixture to a boil.
  • Cook five to 10 minutes.
  • Cool and reserve 2 cups for the baked pasta dish.

To prepare the chicken and ham baked pasta:

  • Lightly spray the baking dish with nonstick pan spray.
  • Pour about 2 ounces of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Tilt the pan back and forth to evenly coat the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce.
  • Lay two sheets of no-boil lasagna on the bottom.
  • Scatter about a fifth of the ham, chicken meat and mushrooms over the pasta; top with about 2 more ounces of sauce.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of ricotta cheese to the lasagna. It is not important to spread this out. As you layer the lasagna, the cheese will flatten between the layers.
  • Continue to layer the pasta and other ingredients until you have used all of the pasta. You should have five layers.
  • Make sure to top the pasta off with the last of the sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until the baked pasta is bubbling.
  • Remove the foil and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes to lightly brown the cheeses.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
  • Cut into four or more pieces and serve.

After you try this recipe, go to our Facebook page and let us know how you like it.

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