Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey (or Chicken) Tetrazzini

Transform slices of cooked turkey or chicken with this mushroom cream sauce, served over spaghetti noodles. Great casserole to use up leftovers.
Transform slices of cooked turkey or chicken with this mushroom cream sauce, served over spaghetti noodles. Great casserole to use up leftovers.

Turkey Tetrazzini

This is just a basic tetrazzini, but it's sure a tasty way to re-purpose some of that leftover turkey from the holidays, or later on down the line, chicken and ham even. A simple, rich cream sauce, fresh mushrooms, chicken stock and a nice splash of white wine and you'll forget you're eating leftovers. If you're looking for a few more ways to use up some of those holiday leftovers, be sure to pop by this page for a little inspiration.

Having an origin similar to many other celebrity inspired dishes, it is believed that tetrazzini was the creation of either Chef Ernest Arbogast of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, or Chef Pavani, of the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. Both claim the creation, kinda like that whole battle over Brunswick Stew. The one thing in agreement, is that it was named after Italian opera soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini. Here's how to make it.

Southern Style Hissy Fit Warning! Tetrazzini is made with turkey (though chicken or ham are often substituted), a cream sauce, mushrooms and a little Parmesan cheese and typically layered with the pasta noodles and baked like a casserole. There is no cream cheese. No cream of whatever soup, though I guess you could shortcut the sauce using that, but certainly there is no packet of dry Italian salad dressing and recipe mix. That's delicious, and better known around the recipe circuits as Creamy Italian Chicken... but it is not tetrazzini. {Swap the packet out for dry Ranch salad dressing and recipe mix and you've pretty much got what's popularly known as "Crack Chicken."}

Now... I'm one to say often, make what you want, the way that you want, and call it what you want,  because it's your kitchen. But, this is what is a bit annoying about hijacking the name of a recipe and publishing it on the internet, because one thinks it is similar enough. In this case, it's misleading to folks who are actually looking for a more classic tetrazzini and not Creamy Italian Chicken. Both good. Both different.

I had a similar situation fall under a "discussion" on my Facebook page about classic Louisiana (or Mississippi for that matter) red beans and rice. A gal had found a recipe from a blogger that was called Louisiana red beans and rice, but they were using the tiny red beans, more popular in Texas, and not the classic red kidney beans. Those tiny red beans are smaller, round in shape and have a totally different flavor profile from red kidney beans, but she was sure set to argue with me about the proper bean for our traditional red beans and rice. I love bloggers, but they make a lot of mistakes about regional dishes that they don't really know much about, but make a lot of assumptions. If they would just do a little real research into other bloggers from those regions, they'd understand the mistake and not pass off bad information. Don't even get me started on po'boys! {tucking away the soapbox}

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Recipe: Turkey Tetrazzini

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 pound of thin spaghetti, broken in half & cooked
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) container of mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of turkey or chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons of dry white wine, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 4 cups of cooked turkey or chicken, cut or torn into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 to 2 quart shallow baking dish; set aside. Cook spaghetti noodles to al dente, drain well and set aside. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet, add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir in the flour until smooth; cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the turkey or chicken stock until fully incorporated, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, whisking for 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in the cream and the wine; add the nutmeg and season to taste with the salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Remove from the heat.

Add the cooked spaghetti noodles to the baking dish, spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce on top. Top with the turkey or chicken, and scatter the mushrooms on top. Pour all of the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle the cheese on top, cover tightly and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cooked through and bubbly. Serve with a side salad or green vegetable and a nice glass of wine.

Cook's Notes: Very nice with sliced turkey or chicken. Great dish for leftover roasted turkey or chicken, but substitute a rotisserie chicken if you like. Also good with leftover baked ham.

Tip: To avoid watery spaghetti, don't rinse the pasta, make sure you give it time to drain really well, and don't build the casserole until it is dry and stops steaming. That steam can create condensation, leaving residual water in the finished dish. Also, you can transfer the pasta back to the hot, but empty, cooking pot and place it back over the turned off burner. The residual heat from the burner and the pot will help to dry the water out of the pasta.

Tuna Noodle Casserole: Substitute 2 or 3 (6 to 8 ounce) cans of solid, light tuna fillets (like StarKist Gourmet Selects), drained and flaked into large chunks, for the turkey or chicken.


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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on November 23, 2012
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