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.

Here’s the recipe:

CHICKEN & MUSHROOM TETRAZZINI     for a printable version click here

1 stick butter
1/2 c flour
2 c low fat 1/2 n 1/2
1 1/2 c chicken broth
6 T white wine or sherry
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

8oz sliced mushrooms
3 c chopped cooked chicken
8 oz angel hair pasta
1/2 c Parmesan
2 T butter
1/2 c fresh bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt

more Parmesan

optional:
fresh asparagus, cooked slightly and cut into pieces

seasoned bread crumb topping

Melt 1/2 c butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour til blended and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Stir in cream, broth, wine, 1 tsp S&P and bring to boil. Cook for 8 min or til thick and bubbly, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in chicken, pasta and cheese, and vegetables if desired. Spoon into a greased 9×13.

Bread crumb topping option:
Melt 2 T butter in a skillet.  Brown the bread crumbs in butter and remove from heat.  Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, chopped parsley, basil, Italian seasoning, and sprinkle the bread crumbs over top.  Bake at 325 til browned and bubbly [25 min if warm] Serves 6-8.  Freezes beautifully cooked or uncooked.

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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