Prep 40 mins
Cook 30 mins
This is neither a 'quick and easy' version nor a 'light' one, but it's true down-home comfort food. If you have a hungry crowd to feed and you're in the mood to cook, it's a great make-ahead dish. Celery and/or mushrooms can be omitted if you prefer. Chopped pecans or slices of pimiento-stuffed olives or a splash of (good!) sherry can be added. The only absolute necessity is to use homemade broth instead of the commercial kind. Makes a huge difference! Times don't include cooking chicken, making broth and other ingredient prep, of course, so add several hours....
- 6 cups cooked turkey or 6 cups cooked chicken, chopped
- 1 -2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup celery, thinly-sliced
- 1 1⁄2 cups onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 12 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups cream
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- cayenne pepper (optional) or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated swiss cheese
- 2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 12 -16 ounces spaghetti (I use "thin")
- Lightly grease a 13" x 9" glass casserole dish; set aside.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat.
- Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and celery; saute until tender.
- While vegetables cook, pour broth into a saucepan and warm on low heat.
- Break noodles into 3 or 4 shorter lengths and cook according to package directions. (In addition to 'thin' spaghetti, both regular spaghetti and vermicelli will work fine. Angel hair pasta does NOT. Using the smaller amount will result in a creamier dish. Use the full pound if you're stretching it to feed a crowd. And in that case, you may need to divide it into two baking dishes.)
- In another large skillet, melt remaining stick (8 tablespoons) butter over medium heat.
- When butter begins to bubble, sprinkle flour in slowly, whisking constantly until a smooth paste is formed; after flour is totally incorporated, continue cooking and whisking for another full minute. (This will prevent the sauce from having a 'floury' taste.).
- Add warm broth in a slow, steady stream, continuing to whisk constantly.
- Add cream slowly, and then stir in sour cream; continue to whisk constantly until mixture thickens.
- When thick, remove from heat; add about 3/4ths of cheeses, reserving some of each type for topping; continue stirring until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth.
- Add basil. (Other choices might be tarragon or poultry seasoning or whatever you especially like with chicken/turkey.).
- Add cayenne or red pepper flakes, if desired. (Tetrazzini can be a little bland, and my family doesn't go for that, so I add a generous amount. If serving children, you might substitute a teaspoon or so of paprika or seasoned pepper to add a little zip without too much heat.).
- Stir sauce well; taste and add salt, pepper and other seasonings as needed.
- Combine pasta, chicken, sauteed veggies and cheese sauce, stirring well to mix; check and adjust seasonings a final time.
- Pour mixture into baking dish(es); top with remaining cheese.
- At this point, it can be cooked immediately, refrigerated overnight or frozen.
- Bake at 375 degrees F approximately 30 minutes, until cheese has melted and dish is bubbling slightly.
- Serve with a great salad, hot French bread or garlic toast, and a decadent dessert for a fabulous crowd-pleaser.