I am a chicken tetrazinni convert.
Since childhood, I remember avoiding it. In cafeteria lines, it was passed over every time in favor of it’s neighbor, baked spaghetti or chicken poppy seed casserole; I would have rather eaten another helping of canned green beans than touch the rubbery, tasteless blob of chicken goo. Or, in other circles, the chicken tetrazzini I came across was brought by well-meaning friends as a gift of family dinner. This version had the dreaded crunchy noodle syndrome: a lukewarm, almost cool bottom with a piping hot, tough, burnt-noodle crust.
But, as a good Southern child, I swallowed every bite, made a “happy plate” (which in my household meant not a speck of food was left), and vowed never to eat chicken tetrazzini again, as far as it depended on me.
When my friend Emme surprised me a few nights ago with a hand-delivered batch of her version, I admit my knee jerk reaction- Run. Far, far away, to pass along to a hungry neighbor I could feel less guilty about giving it to.
But, I should have known this experience would be unlike any I had before. Monique is an incredible cook. Her “Nana’s gravy” has changed my take on marinara sauce (they key is in marinating the meatballs/pork in the sauce all day long, people!) and so I decided to trust her and give it a try.
This chicken noodle dish was refreshingly different. It was creamy, and the noodles were al dente, and the chicken was seasoned and salty. There were even bright specs of red pepper and hearty mushrooms. Gone was the crunchy noddle crust- this was topped with a delicate layer of parmesan cheese.
The moral of this story is that tetrazzini can be delicious. And this chicken tetrazzini is my new go-to recipe for sick relatives, new moms, and anyone else who needs a meal delivered. Because for all of the bad chicken tetrazzini memories I suffered, I feel it deserves to have a redemption in someone else’s mind. And for the next child who eats it, bon appetit. May your odds of your chicken tetrazzini being Emme’s recipe be ever in your favor.
Emme’s Chicken Tetrazzini
You will need:
1 16 oz bag of fine egg noodles
8 oz fresh slice mushrooms (white button)
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounce can)
1 can cream of celery soup (10 3/4 ounce can)
22 ounces of chicken stock (fill your empty soup cans to measure)
5 ounces of Half and Half
4 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken
¼ C Chopped Pimentos or roasted red peppers (chopped)
½ to 1 C of freshly grated parmesan cheese
You will do:
In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and olive oil, add mushrooms and sauté until golden. Add soups, stock, and half and half, and mix with a whisk to incorporate. Heat on medium until the noodles are cooked (see below).
Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to directions—until al dente. Drain noodles; add drained noodles back to noodle pot and add the following: soup/mushroom mixture, chicken, and pimentos. Stir well. Once incorporated add ½ cup to 1 cup (depends on how cheesy you like it) of fresh parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with any additional parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until bubbly.
*If bringing to a sick friend or new mom, or freezing, Emme recommends not baking it ahead of time. Also, this makes a good amount, and it freezes well!