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Chicken Tetrazzini to warm your soul

October 31, 2010

I’ve been hankering for a casserole, specifically a creamy, noodle type one with a hint of sherry, loaded with mushrooms and chunks of chicken. Luckily, with the minimal effort of making a roux-based cream sauce one can forgo the glop of yesteryear that was the base to most of these loved casseroles…canned soup. I improvised by using whole wheat pasta, skim milk, loaded up on good tasting mushrooms, switched out the traditional peas but kept the green by adding steamed spinach and rotisserie chicken. As I’ve told you before, I love it when experiments work so have to share this one with you because not only did it satisfy my “winter is coming soon, time for comfort food” craving but this recipe is a whole lot better for you. And your soul will smile. 

Chicken Tetrazzini

Serves 6

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or linguine

1 pound baby spinach, steamed and drained

1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp butter

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup parmegano reggiano cheese

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces

Steam baby spinach with no added water. Drain well and cut into pieces. Set aside to add to mushrooms.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to a heavy bottomed skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden.  Add another tablespoon oil oil, add the onion and garlic, sauté until the onion is translucent. Add white wine and sherry. Simmer until it evaporates. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.

Heat remaining butter and olive oil in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, broth, nutmeg, salt, pepper. Continue to whisk to avoid lumps forming. Increase heat and allow to simmer uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often. At end add 1/4 cup cheese and whisk until smooth.

Add to mushrooms

Cook pasta in salted water, a minute or two short of fully cooked. Drain well, add mushrooms, spinach, chicken and sauce. Stir to coat well. Turn into buttered casserole dish.  Top with mixture of bread crumbs, remaining cheese and pieces of butter.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned.

Steam spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Cut or pull apart before adding to mushrooms

Sauté mushrooms, onion and garlic

Cook flour in butter and oil.  This is the first step for making a roux.

Add warmed milk slowly, whisking so lumps don’t form.

Simmer until sauce thickens.

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