As promised, here is my family’s beloved tetrazzini recipe… sort of. There is no way to make Mini’s tetrazzini taste the exact same way she did – no one can make it better. Just like no one can make a turkey sandwich taste as good as my Aunt Debbie’s. It’s all about the love that goes into the dish and all of the memories attached to it – you can taste it. This is more of an adaptation of Mini’s recipe, with short cuts and additions from yours truly.
The original recipe called for a 4- to 5-lb. hen. I’m all for keeping with tradition, but like many of us, I work all day and my time (and energy) is limited. I used store-bought rotisserie chickens instead, which, in my opinion, is one of the best purchases in a grocery store (little prep, low cost and the taste is outstanding). I also added nutmeg (I try to fit this into pretty much anything I can) and thyme to round out the flavors a bit. And, of course, adjust the amounts listed to suit your palate.
One more thing I’d like to point out is the Old English Cheese in this recipe. I had no idea what this was – I actually had to call my mom while I was frantically searching the cheese counter at the grocery store. Usually located on the cracker aisle, Old English Cheese comes in a jar and resembles jarred Cheese Whiz. (Apparently, people actually eat this stuff on its own or with crackers…) So, this is not cheese; it is an orange, cheese-like spread, FYI.
This dish brings back so many memories of countless family dinners and is incredibly comforting – even with my tweaks. Thanks for the inspiration, dearest Mini.
Mini’s Chicken Tetrazzini
½ lb. spaghetti
1 quart chicken stock
2 2-lb. rotisserie chickens
1 small onion
1 red or orange bell pepper
16 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
1 quart milk
2/3 cup flour
1 stick butter
5 oz. Old English Cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
Cook spaghetti in the chicken stock. (Add water if the chicken stock is not enough on its own.) Drain and set aside.
Prepare rotisserie chickens, getting as much meat off the bone as possible. Cube or shred the meat and put in a large bowl.
Chop the onion and bell pepper. Add to the chicken bowl, along with the sliced mushrooms.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux. Add the milk, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to thicken, add the thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Then add the Old English Cheese and stir until smooth and fully incorporated into the sauce.
Add spaghetti and chicken mixture to the sauce and toss to coat. Pour into the prepared dish and bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly golden and bubbling. Cool slightly and enjoy!