Live for yourself and you will live in vain;
Live for others, and you will live again.
When I first heard about Susan Mallery’s Win the Way to Your Man’s Heart recipe contest I instantly knew what Esq. would pick. Despite my instantaneous conclusion I asked him anyway, and wouldn’t you know, I was right on the nose! What is this magical dish that is a guaranteed man slayer? Well if you read the title, you would know, but if you don’t feel like scrolling up or breaking your saccadic rhythm this delicious dish could be nothing other than Chicken Tetrazzini.
Esq. is a big fan of casseroles, as I think many men, nay, everyone is. Who doesn’t love lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or Santa Fe chicken casserole. It is my best approximation that casseroles derive their high yumminess quotient from the multilayered soup like flavor from the ingredients baking together in a sauce, textural superiority from the crunchy baked top bits and creamy middle, and finally their sheer nurturing made with love essence. I might be reading way too much into casseroles, but as the meal that you bring to loved ones and friends in times of need, is a staple of holiday dinners, and are often a beloved childhood favorite casseroles seem to be one of the best ways to let someone know you care. Ponder on that the next time you sit down to a lovingly prepared squash and zucchini casserole!
Part of this competition required that the recipe be easy to recreate and not overly involved. Well, my normal Chicken Tetrazzini recipe is based around an involved homemade béchamel sauce that is to die for, but has gobs of ingredients and becomes all consuming. To me it is totally worth it to spend the extra bucks and time for this wonderful creamy white wine sauce, but on a Thursday I really don’t have that kind of time and I was nearly positive that the sauce would immediately eliminate me from the competition. Instead of this wonderful fresh, rich, and flavorful sauce I used Cream of Mushroom. Send me to the Gulag!
Well on second thought, please don’t, because the dish actually turned out quite wonderfully, with the difference only abundantly apparent to only the most experienced tetrazzini connoisseurs.
For a chicken tetrazzini of your very own may I recommend starting by thawing frozen peas. How can you not love produce that comes wrapped like a present?
While the peas are defrosting break your spaghetti noodles in half so that you will have more manageable bites when it comes time to enjoy this wonderful man trapping meal.
In another pan, as the noodles cook, I sauteed mushrooms and onions that would help to make up for the flavor that would be missing by using cream of mushroom soup instead of making my own sauce.
Once the mushrooms and onions had caramelized to a lovely brown I removed them from the pan and threw in some chicken to cook with several traditional italian spices.
Once all of the ingredients are cooked and ready to be combined in the the casserole dish it is time to get that crunchy, buttery, herby topping ready. My personal preference is to use panko as opposed to breadcrumbs, because they stay crunchier longer and the chunks are a little bigger. To the panko I added torn parsley, shredded asiago, and butter to the topping mix.
Once everything is combined and topped with the panko mixture it is into the oven until the top beings to brown and the sauce beings to bubble…if you can wait that long!
This chicken tetrazinni does not come out in the usual casserole square block form when it comes time to plate. Instead we ended up with lovely bowls full of absolutely fabulous pasta delight. Be still my heart.
1 box spaghetti noodles, broken in half
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
3 medium sized boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tbs oregano
1/2 tbs parsley
1/2 tbs rosemary
10 oz frozen peas
1 medium videllia onion
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup panko
3 tablespoons hand torn parsley
3/4 cup shredded asiago
3 tablespoons melted butter
Set frozen peas out to thaw.
Preheat oven to 400º.
Boil halved noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain water and set aside noodles.
Saute chopped onion and mushrooms with salt and pepper in a little bit of olive oil until browned. Once browned, set aside in bowl with cream of mushroom soup.
Combine chicken and spices in the sautee pan and cook chicken until lightly browned. Add chicken to the bowl with soup.
Add defrosted peas to the soup mixture and stir until combined.
Mix the soup mixture with with the noodles in bowl or in a greased casserole dish. Spread contents evenly in a the baking dish.
Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly sprinkle mixture across the top of the casserole.
Place the casserole in oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until top browns and the casserole is bubbly.