What’s Cookin’ – Chicken Tetrazzini

I love to buy whole chickens when they go on sale.  Cooking chicken, like all meats, in whole pieces with the skin and bones adds so much flavor to them.  And, while I do buy the boneless, skinless, chicken breasts because they are so easy and quick to prepare, I find that they are pretty much flavorless unless they are marinated or highly seasoned during the cooking process.  And then you are really getting the flavors of the seasonings and not the true flavor of the meat.

So, I wanted to make Chicken Tetrazzini and decided to cook the 5½ pound roaster chicken that I had in the freezer.  I could have prepared a Roasted Chicken or stewed it, but since I was preparing a few meals over two days I opted to make my Crock Pot Chicken.

My 5½ roaster resulted in 6 cups of shredded chicken.  I made two 2-quart casseroles of Chicken Tetrazzini which used 4 cups of the chicken and froze the remaining 2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken to use in something later.  So, one whole chicken made three meals – now that’s quite a deal!

Now that I had some shredded, cooked chicken I could make Chicken Tetrazzini.  I made one casserole to freeze and one to send to my mother-in-law who was having outpatient surgery.

Chicken Tetrazzini ingredients.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease or spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

Notes:  I used cream since I had some leftover from the holidays.  Cream makes this dish rich and, well, creamy.  I also had 1 cup of shredded Swiss and 1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese already in the refrigerator.  I added 1 cup of Sharp Cheddar.  You can use whatever cheese or combination of cheeses that you like or have on hand, but the sharper or tangier cheeses work best in this casserole.  P.S.  I needed 3 cups since I was making a double batch of this recipe.

I bought my pasta on sale.  I love Barilla pasta and I usually use the Barilla Plus Multigrain pasta, but since this “cut” spaghetti was on sale, I decided to give it a try.  Seriously, though, it’s not that hard to break whole spaghetti into small pieces.

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Reserve one cup of cooking liquid to use in case you need extra liquid later.  Set the cooked pasta aside.  You can start the rest of the mixture while the pasta is cooking.

Here is the “cut” spaghetti cooked and ready to put into the cream mixture.  It’s almost too perfect.

Clean and dice the mushrooms.

I found these large, steak mushrooms on sale.  They were cheaper than the button mushrooms and oh so good.

Mince the garlic and onions.

Here is the sequence of events in the preparation – In a large pot over medium to medium high heat, sauté the mushrooms, garlic, and onions until tender and the mushrooms have exuded all of their juices or about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the flour, stirring constantly, and cook for another minute.  Slowly add the chicken stock while stirring constantly until reaches a low boil and thickens.  Do the same with the cream turning the heat down, if necessary.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken, pasta, and cheese and stir to combine well.  Use the reserved pasta liquid, if necessary, if the mixture is too thick or needs extra liquid.

The mixture will taste wonderful at this point.

Taste and adjust seasonings, again, if necessary.

It is good enough to eat right out of the pot.

Pour into a prepared 2-quart casserole.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and bubbly around the edges.

Notes:  Remember that I was making a double batch, hence the two casseroles.  Prior to baking, you can also put the casserole into the freezer.  You will need to thaw and bring to room temperature prior to baking.  Or you can prepare the casserole in the morning or the night before and put it into the refrigerator to bake later.  Baking times may need to be adjusted slightly.

Chicken Tetrazzini – baked and ready to eat.

Really good with a dinner salad and some crusty bread.  Yummy. 

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