Author Notes: This is as retro as it gets. When I was growing up this was a part of my mother’s regular dinner rotation, using either chicken or turkey. My mom was a great home cook but she would do things like prepare an elaborate entrée and then serve it with a convenience side like Birds Eye Beans and Spaetzle.* Do they still sell that stuff? For those of you who don’t know the lore, this dish was invented in Anti-Diluvian San Francisco in honor of the Italian diva, Luisa Tetrazzini, who had rooms at the Palace Hotel.
Mom didn’t leave a box of recipe cards, just hand written notes in her cookbooks. So, combined with her books and my childhood memories I’ve deconstructed and re-engineered this version. It’s pretty close to the original.
Please note that this dish uses a lot of butter but it’s divided up and used at various stages of the cooking. So please take note of the measurements in the instructions.
Serves 2 but can be expanded
- 2 or 3 boneless chicken thighs, sliced across the grain and COOKED (about 1/2 pound)
- 1/4 pound spaghetti
- 1/4 pound white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Spanish sherry (use the good stuff, like Harvey’s)
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Grated nutmeg
- Bread crumbs such as Panko (although they weren’t using Panko in Luisa Tetrazzini’s day)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano
- Using a skillet or a wok brown the chicken pieces in butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring water to boil for pasta. Preheat oven to 400 °F
- Sautee the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide pan.
- Use about 1/8 tablespoon of butter to grease up an earthenware casserole or baking dish. When the spaghetti is cooked and drained add it to the casserole. Top with the mushrooms.
- Add 5 tablespoons butter to the same pan you cooked the mushrooms in and slowly color over medium flame. Gradually whisk in the flour. It should take on a nice tan color as you whisk. Now whisk in the stock---if you didn’t know you, you are making a sauce velouté.
- Gradually whisk in the cream, followed by the sherry. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Now add the cooked chicken.
- Turn this into your buttered casserole over the spaghetti and mushrooms. Give it a generous grating of Parmigiano. Top that with bread crumbs and a few pats of butter. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes. It should come out sizzling hot. Allow to rest before serving.
- *Note to cook: I prefer to serve it with Brussels sprouts.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Family Recipe