I can’t say that I identify as one. We weren’t really a casserole family, so to speak – I’ve never had anything against them, but they just didn’t serve as a big part of my eating experience growing up. When I think of enormous one-dish meals, I think of lasagna and mac and cheese (both of which my mom can seriously make the heck out of).
Here’s what happened: I was sick, and at the grocery store, and I wanted to buy a rotisserie chicken to make homemade chicken stock. But I also realized that in order to get to the chicken carcass (sorry), I would first need to pull off all the chicken and do something with it.
I really like chicken a lot, but I wasn’t feeling super well and I just didn’t feel up for eating an entire rotisserie chicken. (That’s not necessarily to say that I would have eaten the whole thing had I been feeling fine, but you never know.)
Also, I am notoriously horrible about leftovers. I develop a badittude towards them about a day after they go into the fridge, and they might as well not exist. (Then I definitely don’t just leave them there until I am yelled at to throw them away. I definitely do not *ever* do that.)
Suddenly, I remembered that a few years ago, when I flew back to New Jersey during the winter, my mom fed me homemade tetrazzini and it was SO homey and comfy. I knew it would be the perfect answer to my sick day blues.
Here’s the deal: tetrazzini is mega super easy. For real. You can use chicken or turkey, and you can play around with the kind of noodles you like in it as well. Here’s another bonus: once this cools and firms up, you can cut it up, wrap it in saran wrap, and throw those suckers in the freezer for some other time when you want tetrazzini.
I would like to be clear that this kind of planning is not a strong suit of mine, and I am feeling exceptionally pleased with myself for actually having the wherewithal to prepare myself for later times, rather than letting my beloved tetrazzini fall victim to the dreaded Land of the Leftovers (i.e., the garbage).
One thing I have been doing a lot since I made this is referring to it as “tetra-zeen,” dropping the “i” at the end, Jersey-Italian style (in unrelated news, we have recently been watching a lot of The Sopranos). This annoys my husband A LOT, but he has also started calling it that by accident occasionally, which annoys him further without me even having to do anything. I win!!!
- 1 package long skinny noodles – you can take your pick from linguine, spaghetti, vermicelli, etc
- 6 tbsp butter
- 6 tbsp flour*
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Cayenne pepper – add as you like
- 28 oz chicken broth***
- 1 cup half-and-half (I used fat-free and it was still delicious)
- 4-5 cups shredded chicken or turkey – this was one rotisserie chicken for me
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
*If you want to make this gluten-free, you can use quinoa or brown rice spaghetti (or vermicelli) and sub out the flour for 3 tbsp corn starch. Hooray!
**You can add some diced pimentos, if you want – that’s part of the traditional recipe, but I don’t like them so I abstained. And in case you have forgotten, this is MY blog.
***Here’s a fun thing that you’re accidentally learning how to do in this recipe: when you mix together butter, flour, and chicken stock, you are actually making a VERY fancy French sauce called Véloute which is considered one of the 5 mother sauces of cooking. Look at you, you French cook!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook the pasta – no need to undercook, just cook according to the directions on the box. Don’t be a rebel. Just do it.
3. Now it’s time to make the almost-roux. Melt the butter over low to medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. (I always laugh when I say heavy-bottomed saucepan. You know? Anyway.) Once the butter has melted, stir in the flour. Whisk the flour and butter together, and then add the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
4. Slowly add the broth to the mixture – you’ll want to start out adding only a bit at a time, making sure to whisk everything together so that the butter/flour mixture doesn’t clump in the broth. Eventually, the mixture will be thin enough that you can just add the rest of the chicken broth.
5. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it cook for a few minutes until it has slightly thickened. Take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in the half-and-half.
6. When the pasta has finished cooking (don’t forget about the pasta!), drain it in a colander and then pour it into a very large bowl (seriously – be prepared). Stir in the chicken, mushrooms and parsley.
7. Add the sauce mix to the bowl, and stir it all together. MMMMM!!!!!
8. Either spray or grease a 9×13 cooking pan (it needs sides). Pour the whole mixture into the pan. Top it with all of the Parm and mozzarella (I tried to grate the mozzarella but it was grating on my nerves (lol!!!!), so then I just shredded it with my hands and tried to distribute it evenly and we’re all still here. So it’s really fine no matter how you choose to deal with it).
9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake it for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes has elapsed, remove the foil, and bake for another 20 minutes or until it’s golden brown on top. (I actually stuck mine under the broiler for like 2 minutes because I was frustrated that it wasn’t browning. You can do that or not. I am not that patient.)
10. Let it cool for a few minutes, and then serve. I found that a little bit of salt and pepper added to this when serving made it a total dream.