I’ve never been fond of casseroles. Nothing really looked appealing to me, but as usual, there are always exceptions. Chicken Tetrazzini is one of them. I will admit though, that part of the attraction was largely due to the name: Tetrazzini. It just sounds great and as it turns out, there’s some trivia behind it too!
Chicken Tetrazzini is said to be named after the famous Italian opera star, Luisa Tetrazzini, who enjoyed immense popularity in the US from the 1900s-1920s. Called the ‘Florentine Nightingale’, she was a favorite in the San Francisco area and back then, chefs often named dishes for prestigious patrons of their restaurants.
Her culinary influence was not only limited to one dish however; her epicuric admirers extended their homage to other culinary inspirations like Turkey Tetrazzini, Ham Tetrazzini, Spaghetti Tetrazzini, Shrimp Tettrazini and Tuna Tetrazzini. That’s a lot Tetrazzini! Tetrazzinis? Tetrazzinii?
Well now that the trivia part is done, let’s talk about the dish itself. Chicken Tetrazzini is basically a pasta mixed with mushrooms, chicken, peas and some herbs in a bechamel sauce topped with a golden layer of breadcrumbs and cheese.
Here’s a few handy tips to get the most out of your Tetrazzini. It’s important not to cook the pasta to al dente but to stop somewhere just before it, about 9 minutes, as it will continue to cook in the oven. No one likes soggy pasta. As for the frozen peas, there is no need to cook it as the residual heat from the pasta will do that for you. This keeps them from being mushy and retains their shape. No one likes soggy peas!
Another thing to make sure of is to babysit the bechamel sauce. Constant stirring is needed until the sauce thickens and is ready. For those unfamiliar with bechamel sauce, it’s basically a white sauce made with a roux of butter and flour mixed with milk and is one of the mother sauces in French Cuisine.
That’s about it. Now onto the cooking!Print