When it’s not the day after a holiday feast and I still want a dish that boasts its use of leftovers you know it has to be amazing. Amazing enough I will go out of my way to roast chicken to use in a “second meal.” My mother always made turkey tetrazzini, but I fancy it made with chicken (yes I just used the phrase fancy it). I do not risk getting any L-tryptophan in my system in case I need to stay awake several hours after dinner. Last year after a holiday dinner I escaped to my bedroom for a quick snooze that turned into me being down for the count. Whoops!
Chicken tetrazzini is a creamy pasta dinner with surprisingly few ingredients that many of us have readily available in the fridge and pantry- flour, milk, butter, sherry (the cooking wine, not a person) and spaghetti. You can make various substitutions to appeal to your tastes. For instance, tonight I wasn’t feeling mushrooms and instead added some peas and finely diced onion. Being a wonderfully simple dish at its base makes whatever you add to it give it a new (improved?) personality. Feel free to call yours “tetrazzini a la [insert your name here].” And take all the credit. And stay awake to hear it.
- 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup light cream (half & half)
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- dash pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until barely al dente; drain.
Melt butter; blend in flour. You’ve now made a roux! Gradually stir broth into flour mixture. Add cream and stir until mixture thickens- this will take a couple minutes. You know the mixture is thick enough when it nicely coats a wooden spoon. Add cooking sherry and season with salt and pepper (and garlic if using).
Divide sauce in half. To one half of the sauce add drained spaghetti, peas, onions, and green peppers and chicken. Stir to combine. Place in a 9 X 12 or somewhat close baking dish. Add remaining sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Of course this recipe can be made less sinful by reducing the butter and using low-fat milk. You can substitute gluten-free or whole wheat pasta and really give yourself a pat on the back- but you are hereby forewarned. Gluten-free tends to soak up the liquid in the casserole. I recommend trying it first with regular pasta to see how it “should” be.
Makes 5 to 6 servings, depending on how hungry everyone is.