Chicken Tetrazzini

A bowl of Chicken Tetrazzini

Wotchers!

I’m going full-on retro this week, with the tweak of a classic from my days as a bistro waitress, back in nineteen tumpty-tum *waves hand vaguely*

ANYHOO….

Created in the early years of the 20th century in the United States and named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini, it is usually found on late-December tables made with leftover turkey and a can of condensed soup. *shudder*

This, however, is an altogether more delicate affair with fresh herbs and mushrooms and a splash of wine.

I love this dish for lots of reasons – it’s easy, its versatile, you can cook it from scratch, but it can also be created from cold chicken and cooked pasta, which means it can be assembled in a relatively short amount of time. The sauce – if  I say so myself – is AMAZING: I could quite happily eat it by itself. If you’re in a hurry, then it can be served straight from the pan as a pasta sauce – but if you have the time to make it ahead, it can also sit in the fridge in a casserole and then heat through in about 30 minutes when needed, with no need for any further attention.

I don’t usually fuss too much with specific types of ingredients, but for this recipe I strongly recommend using the chestnut mushrooms if possible – other mushrooms tend to turn the sauce a rather unappetising grey. Fresh thyme is also preferable, but 1.5 tsp of dried thyme can be used instead.

The amounts of both chicken and mushrooms can be varied according to taste or availability. Since the cooked mushrooms have a meaty texture, they mix well with the chicken, and can easily make a small amount of chicken stretch to a family meal. The pasta can be any shape, but shells (conchiglie) and twists (fusilli) hold sauce the best. Alternatively, egg noodles are quicker.

Chicken Tetrazzini

300-500g cooked chicken, diced
30g butter
2 tbs vegetable oil
250-500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
5 shallots – finely chopped
5 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves – chopped
150ml white wine

50g butter
50g flour
1 litre milk- warmed
Up to 4 tsp chicken stock powder (bouillon)
freshly ground nutmeg
A handful of chopped parsley – or more to taste

600g cooked pasta or cook 450g of dry pasta.

Optional
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

  • Put the diced chicken into a bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter and oil in a large pan.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook over a medium heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden. This will take about 10 minutes.
  • Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme, and cook until the shallots soften and become translucent.
  • Stir in the wine and simmer until it has evaporated, then add the mushroom mixture to the chicken.
  • Melt the butter in the now empty pan and scatter in the flour to make a roux for the sauce.
  • Stir the mixture for 3-4 minutes to cook the flour, then remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time. NB – removing the pan from the heat while adding the milk will help reduce the chances of lumps forming.
  • When all the milk has been added, return the pan to the heat and continue to stir while the sauce comes to the boil and thickens.
  • Gradually add the bouillon powder, tasting between each addition to make sure it’s not becoming too salty.
  • Finally add a good grating of nutmeg and the parsley.
  • If you’re eating immediately, add the chicken mix and pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low and let simmer gently while everything heats through. When thoroughly warmed, serve in bowls with a side salad or vegetables – broccoli and cauliflower go well .
  • To serve later, turn off the heat once the sauce has thickened. Allow to cool before stirring in the chicken mix and the cooked pasta. Pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
  • Mix together the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate.
  • To serve, put the dish onto a baking sheet (in case the sauce bubbles over) and put in the oven.
  • Turn the oven on to 180ºC, 160ºC Fan and allow to warm for 25-30 minutes, or until the dish is thoroughly heated and the sauce bubbling.
  • Remove the foil after 20 minutes so that the topping can become crunchy and brown.

Variations
Peas go very well with this recipe, either as a side dish or stirred into the sauce itself.
Turkey – This is equally amazing when made with turkey – a welcome standby to have when faced with mountains of Christmas leftovers.
Vegetarian – just omit the chicken and increase the amount of chestnut mushrooms to 1kg. Use vegetable bouillon powder when making the sauce.
Pasta – consider using long, flat pasta such as linguini.


2 Comments on “Chicken Tetrazzini”

  1. Jean says:

    I had to chuckle at your note about the can of condensed soup. My mother in law used to make something which I called “grey quiche” made from condensed mushroom soup, tinned sweetcorn and some rather overworked home made wholemeal pastry. It was as disgusting as it sounds but we ate it dutifully so as not to offend!
    Your tetrazzini sounds delicious!

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Jean!
      Thank you for the kind words – sounds as if you’ve done some sterling diplomatic relations for your family!
      Courage in the face of wossname and all that. Hope you give this a try! M-A 😀


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