Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken TetrazziniIf you follow me on Facebook you may have noticed that I have been freezing meals and food for busy days that are post new baby.  I plan on doing a more detailed post of hints, tips, and all the freezer recipes that are quickly maxing out my chest freezer.  But for now, I wanted to share this one in its own post.  It is so scrumptious it deserves its own space.

I want to start by assuring you that the old stand by freezer recipes-i.e. lasagna, spaghetti casserole, mostaccoli, and all the other baked, marinara sauce based Italian pasta dishes-that we all seem to gravitate toward when planning ahead, are well represented in my freezer.  But it is a bit limited.  While we eat dishes like that every once in awhile, there are just too many good things to eat out there to limit oneself.  So now, if it is freezer friendly, I like to make a little note next to the title of a recipe before it gets electronically filed in my computer.  That way, at a glance, I know if something is particularly easy to make a double batch of for later, make-ahead if company is coming, or share with a friend in need.  Pre-done pasta dishes are great, but I also freeze marinated fajita meat, whole chickens in spices that are ready to roast, enchiladas, meatballs, bread dough, pancakes and waffles, quick breads, granola, chili, and a plethora of different foods to add variety to my meal planning.  Leftovers are a good thing.  But I will never be one of those people who can eat the same thing over and over.  Just the thought of it makes me cringe!

So the recipe for today?  Classic.  Straight forward.  Wonderfully comforting.  I had not made it in a long time and was kind of excited for the excuse to put it in my freezer.  This recipe makes a big, 9×13 casserole so it is perfect to split into two smaller containers.  You know.  For those days when you are NOT feeding 8 people for dinner.  I froze half of it and then put the other half in my fridge to bake for dinner last night.  Soooo gooood.  A big green salad or, in our case, a pile of steamed green beans, and dinner is served.  Freezer food never tasted so good!
Chicken TetrazziniOne Year Ago: Crock-Pot Chocolate Mess

Chicken Tetrazzini
Adapted from Giada
Don’t let the ingredient list scare you.  Yes, there are a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult.  This is not a weeknight kind of meal.  But it IS the kind of meal you can make ahead on the weekend and then pop in the oven a few days later.  You can easily omit the wine in this recipe, but it really adds a great depth of flavor.

1 lb mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 c dry white wine
1 stick of butter, divided
1/3 c flour
4 c whole milk
1 c chicken broth
1 c cream
salt and pepper
1 lb linguine, cooked just a few minutes shy of al dente
3-4 c cooked chicken, shredded or chunked
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c Italian-style dry bread crumbs

In a large saute pan (like, the biggest on you have), add 2 T of the butter over medium heat and saute the mushrooms until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add another tablespoon of butter and the onions, garlic, and fresh thyme.  Saute until the onion is translucent, but do not let them brown or burn.  Add the white wine and simmer until the alcohol evaporates, 2-3 minutes.  Dump this mixture into a large bowl with the cooked chicken.

In the same large pan, melt the remaining butter over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour.  Keep whisking to let the flour cook for a minute or two.  Whisk in the milk, broth, cream, and some salt and pepper.  Turn up the heat and whisk continuously until it starts to thicken a bit, but don’t let the bottom scorch.  Pour the sauce into the large bowl with the chicken and mushroom mixture (or mix it all in your saute pan if it is big enough) and add the fresh parsley and the cooked pasta.  Gently toss everything together.  Pour into a large buttered casserole dish-about 9×13- or two smaller 8×8 or 9×9 pans.  Spread evenly.  Toss the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together and evenly sprinkle over the casserole(s).  *At this point, the tetrazzini can be cooled, covered in foil, labeled, and frozen.  Or if you prefer, cooled, covered and refrigerated for a day or two.  Otherwise, pop it into a 400 degree oven for about a half hour, or until slightly bubbly with a nice crust on top!  If baking it from frozen, adjust oven time accordingly.