Have you ever wanted to have a recipe named in your honour? I can’t say it’s ever been at the top of my list either. Especially if I wasn’t the person who created it in the first place. When you make a great scientific discovery it’s only right it takes your name. If you have great cultural influence then maybe they’ll name a public square after you. Or a building. Or a mountain. I’d quite like one of those, but suspect they’re all named by now so I’ve missed that boat. I can’t say that I’d be all that excited about a plate of food though.
You can understand why chefs were once eager to name dishes after their famous clientele. A celebrity association is guaranteed to be good for business, but before social media the options were somewhat limited. Inventing a new dessert and serving it to someone famous doesn’t seem so stupid after all. Whether or not Dame Nellie Melba even liked peaches I don’t know, but they will be forever entwined.
The practice seems to have stopped some time ago. – you don’t see Prawns Madonna or Beef Justin Bieber on many menus. Though there probably is a restaurant somewhere serving both of these, hopefully with their tongue firmly in their cheek. No, instead we have dishes named after people like Rossini, Bizet, Paganini and Berlioz. Oh, and Luisa Tetrazzini…
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Luisa Tetrazzini. Nor had I until I came across a recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini, which comprised spaghetti baked in a chicken and mushroom sauce. It sounded interesting but clearly needed more research. Not that I got that far, as I am still unsure as to how an Italian soprano of international fame in the early 20th century came to be associated with this chicken and mushroom pasta dish. There are plenty of claims on its origin none of which will likely be proven. Either way the name has stuck – across the Atlantic at least.
There are also plenty of variations on the recipe. Most suggest making a cream sauce, which no doubt tastes nice but feels a bit like overkill to me. All suggest baking the cooked spaghetti until crisp on the top. I like crunchy pasta bakes but not really with spaghetti – it just feels a bit weird to me. So I’ve made a few changes.
Firstly, I’ve not made a cream sauce and thickened it myself. Instead I’ve reached for an old favourite shortcut ingredient – condensed soup. You get the texture and richness of a cream sauce but in a fraction of the time. I’ve also not baked the pasta either. The crunch is added here via a bacon, parmesan and breadcrumb mixture that’s sprinkled over the plate just before serving.
It may not be a classic version of Tetrazzini, but it is my version. All the components are there, just in a slightly different form. You still get pasta in a rich, creamy sauce. There are still tender pieces of chicken and mushroom. I’ve even managed to find a way to keep a crunchy, cheesy topping. What’s not to love about that?
for the Bacon and Parmesan Crumb
- 4 rashers Streaky Bacon
- 2 tbsp Panko Breadcrumbs
- 25 g Parmesan grated
- 1 tbsp Fresh Parsley finely chopped
for the Linguine Tetrazzini
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets 150g each
- 200 g Button Mushrooms thickly sliced
- 3-4 Spring Onions thinly sliced
- 1 can Condensed Mushroom Soup
- 50 ml Chicken Stock
- 25 g Parmesan Cheese grated
- 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley finely chopped
- 150 g dried Linguine
Make the Bacon and Parmesan Crumb
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Lay the bacon onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until crisp. When cooked remove the bacon from the tray and allow to cool slightly, before chopping into a fine crumb.
- Mix with the breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley then put to one side until needed.
Make the Linguine Tetrazzini
- Rub half of the olive oil over the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until just cooked.
- Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat before adding the mushrooms and spring onions. Cook slowly for 10-15 minutes until softened – keep the heat low enough that you don’t add too much colour.
- Cook the Spaghetti according to the packet instructions but don’t overcook it – you want it to be at the al dente end of things.
- When the chicken is cooked through remove it from the oven and shred it into good bite sized chunks. Add chicken, along with the condensed soup and chicken stock to the mushroom mix in the pan. Stir well until you have a rich creamy sauce. Add half of the parmesan cheese and half of the chopped parsley to the sauce.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and stir until well coated. Serve into bowls, with some of the excess sauce. Sprinkle over the bacon, parmesan and breadcrumb mixture. Enjoy.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||10||g|
|of which Sugars||8||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|