Chicken Tetrazzini – Spend a little, Feed A LOT

Chicken Tetrazzini is a recipe my Grandma found in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1949. The recipe serves 30. Excuse me, did I just read that correctly? Who is feeding 30 people?!? 

Evidently, Granny is. According to my dad, this is the dish that she served at his graduation from veterinary school and at her little sister’s wedding. For the purposes of not having leftovers for the next 3 years, I’ve halved the recipe, and the quantities I note in the recipe card will serve 15. See my final thoughts to see if this will, in fact, serve 15.  


If only I could ask Granny: 

  • What is Sardo cheese? Was this a cheese that has gone the way of dinosaurs and powdered wigs? 
  • Spam? Seriously? Nah, I think I’ll use a ham steak. 
  • This recipe says “Bake for 1 hour in a moderate oven at 350.” What, exactly, is a moderate oven? A conservative oven with liberal ideals? A liberal oven with conservative social constructs? IDK. I think my GE Profile with no political agenda will have to do. 

Cooking this meal was a good bit of work, but luckily my mom was in town to help me in the kitchen. She even earned herself the title of official Intern for Granny’s Recipe Box. A title which has already gone to her head.  

As we were cooking, I just could not see how this recipe would feed 15 people. The ingredient quantities just didn’t add up for me. But, when we finally mixed the pasta and the sauce together, the enormity of this meal was suddenly apparent. 

 We divided the mixture between two casserole dishes – one large and one smaller. I baked the larger and froze the smaller for later.  After an hour in the politically neutral oven, we had a meal fit for a crowd. 

CF Final PicCT Final Bowl


Final Thoughts: 

  • The eggs could be eliminated. They neither help nor hinder the recipe. 
  • This meal was SO GOOD. I can always tell if my husband likes what I’ve cooked because I don’t have to hint around for a compliment. If i have to say “Do you like it??” He will say “yeah its good,” but the fact that I had to ask means, “not really.” After his first bite of this, he said “This is awesome.” High five, Granny!
  • This would maybe feed 15 people by 1949 waistlines, but here in the 21st century, I’d say more like 10-12. 
  • You can easily make this meal and divide between 3 smaller casserole dishes to freeze for several meals. You can also easily cut down on prep time by buying precooked chicken, store-bought broth, etc. I don’t think that these shortcuts were available in 1949, though. No wonder women of this era were always in the kitchen.

Here is everything I used: 

CT Ingredients

Chicken Tetrazzini

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Prep time: 1.5 hours (unless you cook the chicken ahead of time). Total Time: 2.5 hours. Serves 10-12

Ingredients: 
  • 1 4lb chicken cooked and cubed
  • 2 hard cooked eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 lb fine noodles
  • 1.5 c diced celery
  • 1 T minced onion
  • 2 c diced cold ham or Spam
  • 1.5 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 c butter or other fat
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1.5 c milk
  • 3 oz grated Italian cheese (Sardo or other)
Instructions:
  • Cook chicken, cool and cut into sizable pieces. Strain broth and set aside.
  • Cook noodles and drain.
  • While noodles cook, sauté onions, mushrooms and celery in the butter.
  • Blend in flour and stir in enough chicken broth to make a smooth sauce (I used about 1.5 cups). When thick, add milk slowly and blend.
  • Place in greased baking dishes and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake for 1 hour in a moderate oven at 350.
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