Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken Tetrazzini -- Scaled Down

If the title of this post has led you to believe that this is a low calorie version of said tetrazzini, I apologize. It’s scaled down in size only, so that Mr. Rosemary and I wouldn’t completely gorge ourselves on one of our all-time favorite meals. As it was, I still had to freeze a couple portions, which will probably end up as the base for a frittata one night next week, as we’re scrambling to get ready for the annual walleye fishing trip to Ontario. (Or maybe that’s something I’ll look forward to after seven nights of cooking fish!)

The first time I made tetrazzini was years ago after one Thanksgiving, to use leftover turkey. Since then, I’ve looked forward to post-Thanksgiving meals more than the real deal, just for this casserole.  And although it is a great way to use leftover turkey, I find I like it better with chicken.  I have that around much more often.  This time, though, I used rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.  I like to mix both white and dark meat, too. I probably make this just a couple times a year, it’s that rich. But for some reason, it beckoned the other evening. Perfect to go with the roasted asparagus.

(I know it doesn’t look like asparagus in the picture. Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed broccoli. The asparagus was completely consumed, the whole pound, by two people. That’s what roasting does to asparagus. Forces one to substitute another vegetable for blog picture taking the day after.)

Giada makes a great chicken tetrazzini dish, but this one is different from hers – she uses peas, no Swiss cheese, adds onions, cooks the mushrooms -- and for the life of me, I can’t recall exactly where I first got this recipe. I copied it onto an index card, gave no credit to its originator and keep it in a little box, where I keep all the old stand-bys. It’s actually one of like sixteen places where I store recipes. Organization and I have a love-hate relationship.

And I’ve tweaked the original recipe many times over, as my little notes and scratch outs and other hieroglyphics on the well-used card will attest, so maybe it’s morphed into my own after all. Actually, I don’t need the card anymore. I can make this blindfolded.

Did you know that tetrazzini is someone’s name? I didn’t. It’s the last name of Luisa Tetrazzini, a famous early twentieth century Italian opera singer. Apparently, the dish was created by a chef to honor her, a common practice back then. Like Eggs Benedict.  Tetrazzini has come to mean any cream sauce, cheesed-up or not, over chicken and pasta.
But enough rambling. Here’s the recipe. Tweaked and re-tweaked. Buon appetito.

Chicken Tetrazzini

½ pound angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon Marsala
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, or 3-4 scrapes of a fresh nutmeg
2 cups cooked chicken, or turkey, broken into bite size chunks
1 cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup seasoned, bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start boiling water for the pasta. Cook pasta al dente – won’t take long – and drain. (It will keep okay in the colander until you mix it with everything else.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Blend in the flour. Add the broth and the half-and-half, increase the heat and cook stirring constantly until thickened. Lower heat.  Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the nutmeg and the sherry and blend. Remove from heat. Add the cooked pasta, chicken and mushrooms. Fold together until well mixed and then turn into a casserole that’s been buttered or sprayed with vegetable spray. Mix together the Parmesan and bread crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole top. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes about six generous servings.

A little post script:  The gorgeous red plate was part of my Mother's Day goodies from Amy. There's more to come!  Thanks, honey!


  1. Sounds like a really yummy recipe! And it was interesting to read the history of the dish too :)

    Love the plate from your daughter! I got plates and bowls for Mother's Day too. Perfect gifts for a food blogger, right?

  2. Mmmmmmm....we adore tetrazzini here, but I typically just make it with leftover holiday turkey. I love your addition of cheese, yummy!

  3. Lovely recipe! I love dishes that help you work through leftovers :) Although, it sounds like this would give you a great reason to buy one of those yummy rotisserie chickens at the supermarket as well! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh you are reminding me of how much I love this too. I will have to make a scaled down version for Ryan and me too. Your post is making my stomach growl and my face smile. Thanks for sharing, sweet thing! I hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow.

  5. Thanks for the little bit of history about one of our favorite dishes. I always make this for the weekend after Thanksgiving. Your version is similar to mine but I don't add the marsala. Will have to try that next time.

  6. What a lovely recipe and what a beautiful blog. This is my first visit to your site and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I am so glad I did that. You have created a lovely spot for your readers to visit and I enjoyed the time I spent here. I'll be back for more of your writing and your terrific recipes. I hope you have a great day and enjoy the long weekend. Blessings...Mary


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