Tetrazzini — I Did It My Way

Chicken Tetrazzini

All my life I’ve heard of Turkey Tetrazzini al Forno though I’d never had it before. It certainly has an old-world name so I assumed it had all the charm of an authentic Italian pasta dish – rustic enough to be romantic and satisfying enough to be an essential dish in an Italian kitchen. But I was wrong.

Like all pasta al forno recipes, this is a satisfying and generously unfussy dish, designed to feed many (or just a few many times). Cheesy, with its strings of cheddar bechemel stretching from oven dish to plate, it hits all the marks for first-class comfort food. Everyone likes spaghetti and cheese, don’t they?

What is Tetrazzini?

Tetrazzini is a baked pasta dish purportedly named after the Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini. Despite its symphonious name, it’s actually mid-century American, not Italian. The turkey should have been a giveaway…

It’s made with pantry staples and lends itself to all sorts of variations. This means it doesn’t require trips to the Italian market for hard-to-find pasta shapes, artisan cheese, or the very best canned tomatoes from Italy. In other words, it’s good food while I’m staying in avoiding my usual round-up of three stores, the farmers market, and a butcher shop to get dinner to the table.

Having never made or even eaten it before I did some googling and decided that tetrazzini is something that everyone adapts their way. I used chicken instead of turkey and a smattering of whatever colorful vegetables I had on hand. I served it with a great big pile of crisp lettuce leaves and herbs simply dressed in olive oil and lemon from my tree.

In retrospect, I wonder if Chicken Tetrazzini is all that different from Chicken a la King! But I can’t say for sure because I’ve never made that before either…

Oh well. My recipe may not have the romantic pedigree its name suggests but it does have a flourish of fantasy nonetheless. The best part might just be tomorrow mid-day when I imagine myself scarfing the last portion of tetrazzini standing in front of the open refrigerator eating it straight from the dish. GREG

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–6Source Adapted from SaveurPublished
Chicken Tetrazzini


  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ large onion (peeled and chopped)
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper (as needed)
  • ½ pound cremini mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 red bell pepper (stemmed, seeded, and chopped)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cup diced cooked chicken (or turkey)
  • 5 ounce cheddar cheese (coarsely grated)
  • 1 ½ ounce Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
  • 2 tablespoon white vermouth (optional)
  • ½ pound dried spaghetti
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped fresh asparagus


Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350° F. 

Melt the butter in an 8‑qt or larger saucepan set over medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and black pepper; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the red bell peppers and cook until the mushrooms are cooked and the vegetables are very soft about 8 minutes. Add the flour and crushed red pepper flakes and cook 2 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon the whole time. 

Pour in the stock and the milk and cook stirring often until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, half the cheddar, the parmesan, and vermouth (if using). Stir until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a generously salted pot of boiling water add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then add the spaghetti to the pot with the sauce and stir in peas and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and spread evenly into a 9‑by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar and bake until golden and bubbly, about 35 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.