BVC Eats: Chicken Tetrazzini

Wikipedia tell us thatLuisa Tetrazzini (29 June 1871 – 28 April 1940) was an Italian coloratura soprano of great international fame.” Chicken Tetrazzini was invented in her honor by somebody or other. You know how they argue about who invented pizza? Yeah.

I made this with shrimp the first time around. If you make it with chicken, be advised that, all over the interwebs, it is universally recommended that you buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery, bone it, and shred the meat. Easy! I also use rice because noodles aren’t in my diet…but ideally you want linguine or good old plain old spaghetti.

This can be a one-pot meal if you have a heavy cast iron 5-quart pot, ideally with a porcelain glaze.

Chicken or Shrimp Tetrazzini
serves four

Chicken for 4 (one storebought rotisserie chicken, boned and shredded)
Shrimp for 4 (5 shrimp per person, size 16-20 raw peeled tail-on)
12 oz gruyere cheese, grated (comes to about 5 cups grated)
8 to 10 T butter
2 or more T olive oil
2 to 3 t salt
1 t pepper
1/4 t fresh ground nutmeg or Chinese five-spice
2 or 3 lbs sliced fresh white mushrooms
1 large sweet onion, finely minced
4 large cloves garlic, minced & mashed
1/2 c dry white wine (or more!)
1/3 c flour
1 c clear stock
1 c heavy whipping cream or more
1 c frozen small peas
2 c grated asiago, romano, or parmesan cheese
3 c cooked basmati rice
(Set the rice on to cook while you’re prepping the stuff.)

Preheat oven to 450. Melt 1 T butter in a 9×13 baking dish. I used my big 11” square dish.

The stuff

Prep the shrimp, if you’re going with the shrimp version: Thaw if necessary, pull the tails off, and cut each shrimp into 3 bites each.

Saute mushrooms on high heat in 2 T butter, 2 T olive oil. Remove to a bowl. The mushrooms will sweat. Drain off this liquid, reserve it, and substitute for some of the stock.

Saute onion and garlic in more butter until onion is translucent.

Dump all that back into the pan, add wine and shrimp, and simmer until the shrimp is just barely pale pink.

The sauce

Make a brown roux: melt 3 T butter and heat until it’s a little tan, add 1/3 c flour, and cook, stirring rapidly, until the flour is bubbly. (I might use more butter.)

Add the cream, stock, and seasonings. Heat until thickened, cook a few minutes until milk flavor dissipates. Add more wine to thin if needed until you have a medium-thick sauce.

Add 2/3 of the grated gruyere and half the other cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted. Add yet more wine to thin it, if it’s too thick again. Fairly thick is good.

Assembly and baking

Spread the cooked rice in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Any butter left from your 8 T? Melt it and pour it over the rice.

Mix together thoroughly the cheese sauce, mushroom-shrimp mixture, and peas. Pour over rice.

Feel lazy? Just stir the whole shebang together, no layers, and pour into the buttered casserole.This also helps keep it from boiling over if the sauce is on the thin side, because the rice soaks up some extra liquid.

Top with the remaining grated gruyere and the grated parm/asiago/romano.

Bake uncovered on high heat (450) until cheese top is browned, 15 to 25 minutes.

Keep an eye on it. This dish will boil over if you overfill your casserole, so take out some sauce-mushroom-shrimp mix if necessary to make sure you have room for the cheese topping. And put a baking sheet under the casserole, or you’ll be scraping goo off the oven floor. (I didn’t, and I was.)

Total comfort food. It reheats lovely. Even the stuff you couldn’t fit into the casserole the first night.



BVC Eats: Chicken Tetrazzini — 2 Comments

  1. Apparently there was also at one time a Pear Tetrazzini – hastily invented by a chef at a restaurant where a furious Ms. Tetrazzini had just been offered Peach Melba by an incautious waiter…