Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Get Well"/"Welcome Home" Meal: Classic Chicken Tetrazzini

I know I just wrote about my sister, Jennifer’s, birthday dinner a week ago. Well, now I’m writing about her “Get Well”/ "Welcome Home” meal. No need to worry, she’ll be just fine, but it’s nice to come home to some home-cooked meals after a stint in the hospital! I was flipping through “Savor the Moment” trying to pick out something that would fall into the “comfort food” category when I landed on the recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini. Hello, flashback moment. I remember growing up with Stouffer’s Turkey Tetrazzini. White meat turkey, pasta and cream sauce – what’s not to like about that? It was preeetty darn good, although I really don’t remember having it since. It seemed to meet the "comfort food" criteria, so I thought the chicken version of this comforting meal would be a great choice.
Because the recipe says it serves four, I doubled it. I had six people to feed and you just have to have some leftovers. Doubled, the recipe fit perfectly into a 13” x 9” glass baking dish. You don’t really need to double the liquid in the dish completely, maybe just 1.5 x’s – the same goes for the flour. For the chicken, I baked a few boneless, skinless, chicken breasts and chopped them up into 1” cubes. Also, this dish calls for vermouth which I have always associated with my grandparent’s favorite Happy Hour drink: The Martini. They would appreciate that I capitalized that. At every family event they would arrive, martini travel case in hand with all the requisite ingredients: gin (check), vermouth (check), shaker (check), olives (check). These people took their martini-making very seriously! They’d emerge from the kitchen after 15 minutes of a mixing and shaking ritual with the perfectly shaken, icy cold cocktail. Needless to say, as I added the vermouth I was wondering if it would be too overpowering, but then I realized this is the ingredient that gives the Chicken Tetrazzini its signature flavor. Don’t be afraid to also double the vermouth if you double the recipe and by no means omit it – it is very necessary!
Coincidentally (or is it?), when we arrived at my sister’s house, Tetrazzini in hand, my Brother-in-law was mixing up a batch of martinis to celebrate Jen’s return – or maybe because he had the kids for 72 hours straight. In any event, tonight they happened to be the perfect pairing for this dish! Alternately, I would definitely recommend a nice, buttery Chardonnay.

The Dish:
Classic Chicken Tetrazzini (pg. 207)

The Drink:
Chardonnay or, if you are so inclined, a Martini

I baked the dish for an hour at my house and then popped it under the broiler when I got to my sister's. This did beautiful things to the Parmesan cheese, turning it all brown and bubbly. After about 10 minutes the house smelled fantastic! By the time I pulled it out of the oven we could barely wait for it to cool off to eat it. I brought a salad to serve with the Tetrazzini but it never really made it to the table. I think we were all in agreement, this dish was very delicious – decadent, creamy, rich and fabulous. Definitely some serious comfort food at its best!

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