Hye Thyme Cafe: Chicken Tetrazzini "ish"

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken Tetrazzini "ish"


I was reading a magazine a few months back, and a Turkey Tetrazzini caught my eye. I looked it up online, but it was in one of those magazines that don't post their recipes, so I was bummed since it was a random outdated magazine that I was reading out somewhere. I didn't have access to it to write the recipe down at that point. I have been thinking about it off and on, so I decided to try my own version, but with chicken.

I have never actually had a Tetrazzini before, so I turned to the Internet for info, starting with Wikipedia.  

That is exactly what I found when looking at various recipes ... there is no universal standard. The only things that seemed to be universal were the use of some form of milk or cream, a cheese, pasta, and a protein. After that, they all vary. Sooooo, whether you want to call this a Chicken Tetrazzini or just a Chicken/Pasta Casserole, here's my version ...

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 celery stalks
2-3 carrot sticks
1/2 lg onion, cut into chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, split open
32 oz chicken broth
1 t Better than Bouillon stock base
2 t rubbed sage
Salt and Pepper

8-10 oz gemelli (pasta twists)
1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into 1" pieces

4 T butter
1/2 lg onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 c flour
2 t Better than Bouillon stock base
1/3 c cooking Sherry or white wine
2 c broth (from the poached chicken)
1 c cream
2 t rubbed sage (I'll increase next time)
1/2 c toasted almond slices
1/3 c grated Parmesan

1/3 c grated Parmesan
1/3 c Panko break crumbs
1/3 c sliced almonds
1 T butter

Start by poaching your chicken, so it's nice and juicy and tender. I looked in the veggie drawer and found some sad carrots in there, so I used the carrots, a few stalks of celery (with the leaves), half of a large onion, and two cloves of garlic (split in half), for seasoning. Toss the veggies in your pan, add the chicken, broth, sage, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the Better than Bouillon. I love that stuff! It adds richness to the broth without being overly salty like the cubes can be; and you have more control over how much you want to use. You might have to swish everything around some to get the chicken down into the broth.

As for the sage, I was thinking about going with oregano or sweet basil, but I didn't want to end up with chicken pot pie filling. That's also why I chose the asparagus, as opposed to the peas, carrots, etc. in many of the recipes I looked at. Oh, by the way, another common item in Tetrazzini appears to be mushrooms, but I'm not a mushroom kinda gal, so those didn't even make it into the running!

Let that slowly come up to a boil over medium heat, then reduce it to barely a simmer, pop a cover on it and let it cook for 15-20".  Then just turn off the heat and set it aside to finish cooking in the residual heat.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, salting the water once it comes to a boil. Because the asparagus was so thin, I didn't want to cook it, so when the pasta was done, I threw in the asparagus, then drained them both together so the heat from the pasta would take the bite off the asparagus.

Set that aside for the moment and turn your attention back to the chicken. I like to tear it into bite sized pieces rather than cutting it. It just looks more rustic that way, but whatever works for you. I set the carrots aside for the dog, tossed the rest of the veggies, and strained the broth to use in the sauce.

Gather all of your sauce ingredients together and lightly toast your almonds by heating them in a dry pan over med-low heat. Make sure you keep tossing them around so they don't burn, and as soon as they get some nice color on them, pour them out onto a paper towel or paper plate so they're not sitting in the hot pan.

Saute the onions and peppers in the 4T of butter until the onions are translucent, then whisk in the flour and continue cooking for a minute or so to make a roux. I found it to be too dry, so I added just a splash of the Sherry at this point. Once that has cooked for about a minute and has a nice color on it, add the stock paste and your liquids, and let it come up to a boil.  

I had a small carton of heavy cream in the fridge, so I had intended to use 1/2 c of the heavy cream and a 1/2 c of milk, but I had a premature senior moment and forgot about that, so I ended up using a whole cup of the heavy cream. That worked out fine, but if you're concerned with calories, you'll want to go with something lighter.

Once the sauce comes together and starts to thicken, go ahead and add the sage, and stir in the Parmesan and toasted almonds, followed by the pasta/asparagus mixture and the chicken. 


Because I was working with a non-stick oven-proof pan, I will be baking it right in the pan. If you need to transfer it to a casserole dish at this point, just be sure to butter or spray it first, to prevent sticking.

In a small bowl, stir together the additional Parmesan, Panko crumbs, and almond slices. There is no need to toast these almonds since they will toast naturally while baking.  Sprinkle the topping mixture all over the top and dot with butter.

Bake at 350 for about 30" until golden and bubbly.

We all really enjoyed this dish. It's a great winter stick-to-your-ribs kinda meal. The only critique (and we all agreed) was that the flavor profile needs to be bumped up. Not changed, just upped, so I'll be using more sage next time...and maybe more of the asparagus.

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