The chicken tetrazzini recipe from Pioneer Woman is not a boring spaghetti casserole but a flavorful and adored dish named after the famous opera star Luisa Tetrazzini.
This long-standing recipe had its golden age in the early 20th century, prepared in the fanciest dining rooms across the most elegant hotel restaurants in the USA.
The sudden inspiration for this meal is unknown since it’s hardly Italian but quite rich. As years passed, the fame faded away, and now Chicken Tetrazzini is not considered so fancy anymore, but still, for a homey dinner, it’s the best!
How long does it take to make the Chicken Tetrazzini from Pioneer Woman?
Honest recipes are the best, so let me tell you, this meal is not the fastest way to get a warm dinner on the family table. You’ve got to have at least 60 minutes of free time.
That can be too much on a busy weekday, understandably. However, on a cozy and slow Friday evening, when you’re craving some creamy comfort food and in the mood to make something delicious, this dish is perfect.
You can speed up the process by preparing and planning ahead of time, which is usually what skilled chefs do. If you’re a beginner cook looking to show off your skills, this recipe might not be the best way to do so.
What do I need to make this recipe?
Surprisingly, Chicken Tetrazzini is prepared in a lot of ways. This is due to being tweaked left and right in recent decades. It seems as if most home cooks have a slightly different version of this well-known meal.
Despite the wild variety of recipes, there is some common ground. It is an oven-baked pasta casserole with either chicken or turkey, mushrooms, cheese, broth, and some kind of creamy white sauce.
Some versions have peas, zucchini, olives, heavy cream, butter, sherry, canned cream mushroom soup, tomatoes, and different types of cheese.
One thing is for sure, the original recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini didn’t have any tomatoes, only spaghetti, garlic, parmesan, mozzarella, butter, milk, nutmeg, portobello mushrooms, and some chicken broth. Nothing else.
That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the recipe a little and make it to your liking. Feel free to do so.
Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe Pioneer Woman
- 2 ounces Spaghetti
- 2 sticks Butter (one salted, one unsalted)
- 4 Cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 cup Portobello mushrooms (chopped)
- 2 tbsp White vinegar
- ½ cup White all-purpose flour
- 3 cups Chicken broth
- 1 cup Whole milk
- 3 cups Shredded chicken thighs
- 4 slices Bacon (fried and chopped)
- 1 cup Frated parmesan
- 1 cup Grated mozzarella
- ½ tbsp White pepper
- ½ tbsp Nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook all the spaghetti in boiling salty water, just until al dente. It will continue cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the minced garlic cloves in it for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
- Cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms release some water before adding the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Add the vinegar and continue simmering the mixture to reduce the liquid even more.
- Combine the flour, chicken broth, and milk. Cook it while stirring until it thickens.
- Combine the spaghetti with the chicken thigh pieces, the mushroom mixture, bacon pieces, and mix them well.
- Transfer everything to a large baking dish, and sprinkle all the grated cheese on top.
- Bake the Chicken Tetrazzini in the 350 degrees preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until it starts to bubble and the cheese turns slightly golden brown and melted.
- When plated, you can garnish the meal with some fresh parsley.
- Serve it hot!
How do I know when the recipe is done?
When the chicken tetrazzini is done in the oven, the liquids will start bubbling, and the cheese on top will nicely melt together into a golden-brownish top layer.
The more liquid it has, the more time it needs in the oven. However, the goal is not to bake it dry. That’s the worst thing to do with spaghetti. Don’t make Italians cry. Layer a lot of cheese on top to keep the dish from drying out.
A buttery, creamy sauce and fatty bacon will also help roast the spaghetti casserole evenly. Mix the ingredients evenly before putting them into the oven. If it starts to dry out, adding some more broth can help to keep it moist.
What is the best type of cheese for this recipe?
Some cheeses are better suited for oven-baking, such as mozzarella or cheddar. When baked, parmesan is not so visible. However, it adds a lot to the overall taste.
Feta is not an ideal choice to add to oven-baked dishes. Some versions are made with Irish cheese and cream cheese.
These will both do the trick, but the original recipe used a lot of parmesan to create a strong flavor. When using lots of salty parmesan, keep salting the food at bay. At the same time, dishes with mozzarella need a little more salt.
Can I use turkey instead of chicken?
Authentic Chicken Tetrazzini is made with grilled chicken, preferably with juicier thighs or breasts. If you want to prepare this meal for a baking contest, stick to using chicken.
Alternatively, use any meat you and your family enjoy, such as beef, turkey, seafood, or pork. Some fancy restaurants serve a salmon variety of this meal as well.
After Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might have a lot of leftover turkeys. This is your moment! Make all the Turkey Tetrazzinis!
Some delicious oven-roasted turkey will elevate this dish to a holiday special without much planning.
Chances are, you already have some spaghetti and broth in the pantry, and you can leave out the mushrooms as you please. It’s even better if you have some turkey broth or juices leftover from the roasted turkey.
When making this meal with turkey instead of chicken, perhaps you should go with some cheddar instead of parmesan and mozzarella, as it better compliments the meat.
Tips and tricks for a better recipe
Chicken Tetrazzini is a mouthwatering, creamy family favorite. It’s not a special holiday meal, but it’s worth every minute of cooking in the end.
The perfect Chicken Tetrazzini is very similar to pasta carbonara, however different the ingredients are. Some chefs pop some jalapenos into the mushroom ragout to give it some edge. In addition to the white vinegar, some freshly squeezed lemon juice after baking can help to deepen the flavors.
You can buy a rotisserie chicken to make the preparation easier. When it comes to chicken, most people opt for breasts, but thighs are much juicier.
This dish is best cooked with thighs. Some recipes call for melting the cheese into the broth-mushroom liquid, but this isn’t the best approach. The cheese will most likely dissolve into the sauce. Layer it on top of the casserole to keep its texture and consistency and keep the dish from drying out in the oven.
Another thing to pay attention to is not boiling the sauce on high heat, especially with milk in it. Keep the heat strictly set to medium. Besides garlic, shallots also have a place in this recipe, so feel free to add some of them to it.
Tetrazzini brings up memories for most people, as it’s a long-standing recipe. It is still shocking how few people know the original recipe as it is. You might have a different tradition in your family for this meal, but the authentic dish is worth a shot.
Don’t let it sit at room temperature for more than two hours; otherwise, it can go bad fast. Keep it in the fridge, or freeze it for later.
There’s no need for side dishes because this is a complete meal in and of itself. If you want to stay on track with your calorie intake, start with a salad and then serve yourself a smaller portion of the Chicken Tetrazzini.
So, do you already know how to prepare the Chicken Tetrazzini recipe from Pioneer Woman at home? Please, feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below!