Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

The other day I decided that I must have pasta for dinner, good pasta. I love Italian food and I was yearning for it (if you can truly yearn for food, which I believe you can). I looked through many recipes, some with beef, some with chicken, some vegetarian, and even some with turkey. And I found this recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini and knew that I must try it. At first glance I was a little weary of the long list of ingredients and the time it might take to put this dish together. And while it did take a little longer than my typical weeknight dinner, it was worth the effort.

This is a baked pasta. You put all the ingredients in one big bowl, mix them up, and bake. However, as I was sampling the food as I went along (one must do this to make sure it tastes good) and then having the finished product I was torn. I actually thought I might prefer the pasta pre-baking, but it was also very good baked. So next time I make this dish I may skip the baking portion and enjoy it right from the pot. Either way, this pasta is, in my opinon, worth the extra time it takes to put together. (FYI: it probably took me about 30 minutes to prep this meal).

Chicken Tetrazzini
Pictures by Caroline
Yields 6 to 8 servings


9 tablespoons butter *Follow my notes to reduce the amount of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 ounces linguine
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan **Follow my notes to omit this cheese.
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl. *Note: You can skip this step like I did and boil the chicken with some salt and pepper and then shred the meat. I thought it was a bit quicker, easier, and cut back a little on the butter.
  3. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.
  4. Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes. **Note: I skipped adding the Parmesan and the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter here. I just sprinkled with bread crumbs over the top and then sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray to help the bread crumbs brown. This was another effort to cut down on the butter and overall calories.

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