Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chicken Tetrazzini: It's All About The Sherry

The first time I had this dish, I was sitting around the family table at my would-be in-law's house. I took one bite, looked at my sweetheart, and resolved that if for no other reason, I would marry him for his Momma's cookin'.

His hunky smile had me the first time he met me for lunch at the Student Union in college.

But, the combination of that smile and the goodness that drips down his chin every time he eats this glorious pasta dish - well, I am putty in his hands.


And ever.

And ever.

This dish - made totally from scratch - is about the only casserole my hubby will eat. It's actually a baked pasta dish. But, you bake it in a big ol' pan which I suppose then classifies it as a casserole.

But, this is anything but your typical, potluck casserole. After you finish making the sauce, you douse it with sherry.

The sherry. It's all about the sherry.

I gotta warn you - creating this dish makes the world's biggest mess in my kitchen. But, then again, I'm not really a "clean as you go" kind of cook. But, mess and all, it's worth it. OH, so worth it.

To combat the after-dinner clean up, I'll often make it in the morning (or night before), put it in the fridge, and then bake it just before I serve it. Especially if I'm serving it to company.

I absolutely love this dish.

And, the hunky chin that wears it 'bout twice a month.

Chicken Tetrazzini
a family recipe...

1/2 pound linguine
2 lbs (about 8) boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into strips
1 rib celery, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 stick butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream or half and half
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter

Cook linguine according to package directions until al dente, approximately 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place chicken breast, onion, carrot, celery, chicken broth, water, parsley, bay leaf, marjoram, thyme, salt, and pepper into large stock pot. Boil, uncovered, for 2o minutes, or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.

Remove chicken with tongs or slotted spoon and set aside.

Strain the stock and vegetables in colander over a large bowl - saving the vegetables and the stock. Remove bay leaf from vegetables and discard.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and cream together until well blended. Set aside.

Place a stick of butter into the stock pot and melt over medium heat. Stir in flour and whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Add four cups of the stock into the pot and whisk until smooth and thick.

Add one cup of the butter/chicken stock mixture to the cream/egg mixture - stirring to combine. (This will help the egg to mix evenly into the sauce without starting to cook). After adding in some of the hot mixture, add the cream/egg mixture into stock pot and whisk until almost boiling. Remove from heat.

Chop cooled chicken into bite sized pieces. Add chicken and vegetables into pot. Add sherry.

To assemble, butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the cooked linguine. Pour chicken mixture on top. Using a fork, mix lightly so that the sauce falls down and in between the noodles. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into tiny pieces, and sprinkle over the top. This will give it a golden brown top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. Turn oven to broil. Broil for 3- 5 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

For cooking in advance:

*If refrigerating, follow all steps, except for adding the Parmesan and butter. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to bake. When ready to bake, sprinkle dish with Parmesan and butter, and bake as directed, adding an additional 20 minutes to cooking time.

*If freezing, follow all steps, except for adding the Parmesan and butter. Cover dish with plastic wrap AND foil. Freeze. Thaw completely before adding Parmesan and butter, and bake as directed, adding an additional 20 minutes to cooking time


  1. Looks yummy!

    We love chicken tetrazzini in this house. Up until this year, I always made T's mom's version - but this year, thanks to Southern Living, I found a recipe with peas, alfredo sauce (I used the sun dried tomato alf. sauce) and prosciutto - oh WOW! I'll have to try this one too! Love me a good dish o' noodles!


    If I had sherry at home, I'd be making this right now.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'll have to try it.

  3. This looks great and I have almost everything in my pantry...except the Sherry. I'm hoping they sell those small "hotel" bottles at a store near us so I don't have to buy a whole bottle...unless I really like this casserole...then I might use up the whole bottle.

    I'm going to bookmark this for another day. Oh, and it's great that you can freeze it ahead of time. It will be a nice dish to have in the freezer for unexpected dinner guests. Looks very pretty!!

  4. This sounds so good. I've never made it, but I bet my family will like it. They have a history of enjoying your recipes!

  5. This is the BEST chicken tetrazzini recipe ever! We have this one for holidays, because of the in depth recipe and the special-ness of it. One of our family's favorites! My mom has this one mastered, too!

  6. Oh, it's all about the browned parm on the top! I even caught Pappy trying to sneak some extra topping this past Christmas!!!!

  7. love this stuff. the leftovers are so good for lunch too!

  8. so, sarah...
    we had the chicken dish tonight for dinner (from a few posts back). my kids liked it - although tucker did mention that it was tickling his tongue (we try to downplay the spicy factor so they'll have no excuses...) thanks!
    this tetrazzini recipe looks familiar - seeing as it's a family recipe, i'm sure i've had it before - in fact, i can specifically remember jason's aunt ella bringing one over after my youngest sister was born. i'm glad to have a copy of the recipe now :)

  9. um...looks like I have a few things to add to my grocery list. YUM!

  10. This looks amazing. Just amazing. I'll be right over.

  11. Yay!! Finally!! Thank you for posting this!

  12. How many does this serve?