Take out Tuesday, Chicken Tetrazzini

This is as comforting as good ole Mac & cheese yet it feels very sophisticated.  All you need is a simple green salad and you will be very happy. This versatile dish is easy to make ahead and hold in the fridge for a day or two before baking, or prepare and freeze either before or after baking. This is actually DD’s [darling daughter] recipe, and a long time favorite in our house. Its easy, its delicious and everybody loves it. I decided it would be a good dish to make for Hungry Husband Jr and his family tonight, for his Take out Tuesday meal. I love to cook something to send home for them on Tuesdays when my grandson, Super Boy comes over to play.  I set aside a special “deconstructed” portion for SB, just lightly sauced noodles and some sauteed chicken.

The Parmesan gets golden and a little crunchy to the top and the inside stays creamy, full of tender chicken, pasta, and perfectly sauteed mushrooms all enveloped in a velvety  white sauce.  Don’t worry I am going to show you how to perfectly saute those mushrooms!

Gather the ingredients, Parmesan, half & half, thin spaghetti, butter, chicken broth, mushrooms, garlic, [ the  french bread, basil, parsley & Italian seasoning are for optional bread crumb topping]

and my secret ingredient-

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Cooking Sherry?”,  “Really?”, “Isn’t that stuff cheap and nasty?”  “Don’t all the fancy chefs turn up their noses at such a common ingredient?”  Well, I don’t care, I LOVE the stuff.  It imparts a certain flavor that simply marries with the mushrooms, chicken and cream.  If you want to get all snobby about it, use some good white wine, that will work just fine, but trust me you won’t get quite the same rich flavor.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, then add the flour, stirring to incorporate, and cooking and stirring for about one minute. This takes the raw flavor out of the flour and insures you won’t have a lumpy sauce.  Stir in the cream, broth, wine and S & P.  Bring to boil and then let cook for about 8 minutes until thick and bubbly, stirring often.  Mine is usually very thick at this point so I add some more cream or wine until I get a consistency that is going to coat the pasta and chicken well, but thin enough to blend everything together.  Remove the sauce from heat and just let it hang out while you get the other parts ready.

Melt 1 T of  butter in skillet on medium high heat and add 1 T Olive oil.  Toss in the sliced mushrooms and stir briefly to coat.  Let them cook undisturbed for a minute or two then stir.  The goal here is to cook them quickly and get a nice golden brown on them.  Once they release their juices you might want to increase the heat a little to finish browning them quickly.  This method prevents your mushrooms from being rubbery in your casserole.  Please don’t use jarred mushrooms. Ever. Thank you.

If you need to cook your chicken do it now using the same skillet. See Buttermilk Chicken post August 10 for details.

Cook the pasta until not quite done, and drain.  Do not rinse, rinsing takes away the starchy residue which helps the pasta bind with the sauce.  The pasta will finish cooking in the casserole.  By under cooking the pasta just a little you prevent it from becoming a mushy mess later.

Toss the hot pasta into the sauce, add the chicken and gently fold in the mushrooms

I divided the mixture into 2 casseroles, one for us and one for Hungry Husband Jr. and his wife..  I saved some plain chicken and noodles for Super Boy, tossing just a little sauce on the pasta.

Dishes lined up, topped with Parmesan and ready to bake or travel.

Chicken & Mushroom Tetrazzini

Think of this as sophisticated comfort food, full of pasta, chicken and golden mushrooms in a creamy bake that can be made ahead and just popped in the oven later
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Tetrazzini

  • 8 oz angel hair pasta noodles
  • 8 oz sliced white or Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 20 stalks fresh asparagus, slightly cooked, and cut into pieces optional

White Sauce

  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 Tbsp white wine or cooking sherry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper or pepper

Bread Crumb Topping

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Instructions
 

White Sauce

  • Melt butter in a large deep sauce pan over medium high heat
  • Whisk in flour until blended and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly
  • Stir in cream or milk, broth, wine and salt & pepper
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring, until thick and bubbling, then remove from heat

Tetrazzini

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside
  • Add chicken, drained cooked angel hair, asparagus {optional} mushrooms and 1/2 cup Parmesan to sauce
  • Spoon into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish
  • Top with bread crumb topping
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes if warm, or longer if dish has been refrigerated, until casserole is browned and bubbling
  • Sprinkle cooked dish with more Parmesan before serving if desired
  • This can be made ahead for up to 2 days, covered in the refrigerator or frozen cooked or uncooked

Bread Crumb Topping

  • Melt butter in a skillet
  • Add bread crumb and cook until browned then remove from heat
  • Stir in the seasonings
  • Sprinkle over the top of casserole before baking
Keyword casserole, chicken, do ahead, pasta, white sauce

tip:    Pour a little milk or 1/2 n 1/2 on top of finished casserole before baking to insure that it bakes up extra creamy and moist.

Enjoy!

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