March 03, 2019
As a child raised by the Internet, I first heard about Chicken Tetrazzini from a meme, where it was bafflingly discussed in the context of adultery on a Maury Povich segment, and perhaps because of the memorable name, the dish stuck in my head.
When I saw the recipe being cooked on Giada Di Laurentiis’ Food Network show, I decided to give it a try and really loved the outcome. It’s a comforting baked pasta casserole with a hearty cream sauce. Despite its humble associations it is actually a fairly involved dish that demonstrates three important cooking techniques- the construction of a good white bechamel sauce, grilling chicken breasts properly, and sautéeing mushrooms.
As you can see in this recipe, I am using one wide metal sauté pan for the chicken, mushrooms and sauce. While I would normally prefer a nonstick surface for the chicken and mushrooms, I use the saucepan because I want to use a metal whisk to make the bechamel, and I can’t use a metal utensil in my nonstick pan. It’s a tradeoff, but the sauce really benefits from being cooked in the same pot that the chicken and mushrooms were cooked in previously- the fond leftover from the previously cooked items in the pan will enrich the flavor of the sauce and cause the flavor of the final dish to be more cohesive.
Another cooking tip is that when you’re cooking the mushrooms you don’t want to crowd the pan. You may want to use the technique I cover in more depth in my sautéed mushrooms recipe to sautee them in batches, moving the cooked mushrooms to the edge of the pan as you add more to complete the batch. To get the mushrooms uniformly sized I also recommend the use of a slicer, which makes slicing something soft like a mushroom easy.
In this recipe I’ve also usedegg noodles instead of linguine noodles to make the recipe eat in smaller bites, but I go back and forth on that depending on how I want the dish to turn out.
- 12 ounces egg noodles
- 1.5 Lbs. chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 cup chicken stock, divided
- 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup panko
- 10 oz frozen peas
- 9 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Grease a casserole dish with one tablespoon of butter.
- Season the chicken breast on both sides liberally with salt and pepper. In a large wide metal sauté pan, melt a tablespoon of butter, and then sear the chicken breast for 2 minutes on each side, and then transfer the chicken breast to a cutting board to cool.
- Bring about 3 quarts of salted water to boil in a stock pot. Add the uncooked egg noodles and cook for the recommended amount of time to make them "al dente". Reserve a half cup of the cooking liquid and then drain and set the noodles aside.
- In the same metal sauté pan on medium-high heat, melt another tablespoon of butter. Add an uncrowded layer of the sliced mushrooms and let sit without stirring for about 5 minutes. After the mushrooms have released their water, begin to stir more, for about 12 minutes total until the mushrooms are a pale golden color and fragrant.
- Add the onion, garlic, and thyme to the mushroom mix and stir for about 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mix to a large bowl.
- In the same sauté pan, melt another 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat- add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes, slowly adding the broth to make a thick roux.
- Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, and add salt and pepper. Scrape up any browned bits of mushroom from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered until the bechamel sauce thickens slightly about 10 minutes.
- Combine the cooked noodles, bechamel sauce, peas, mushrooms, parsley, and chicken to the large bowl and toss to combine until the pasta is well coated in the sauce.
- Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish.
- Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pasta mixture. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.
- Bake, uncovered, until golden brown and the sauce begins to bubble, about 25 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from:
Written by Will Chiong who lives and works in New York building useful things.