Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

This Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole is an American favourite. We’ve added some broccoli/cauliflower to the dish to add some colour and texture. Don’t overcook the vegetables! This baked version includes Parmigiano and breadcrumbs over the top then baked in a casserole until golden. This dish also freezes very well. (Defrosted and then baked) The dish is named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini.

A bit of history regarding the dish. It is widely believed to have been invented circa 1908–1910 by Ernest Arbogast, the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, where Tetrazzini was a long-time resident. However, other sources attribute the origin to The Hotel McAlpin which was constructed in 1912 by General Edwin A. McAlpin. When opened it was the largest hotel in the world. In 1920, the hotel hosted what may have been the first broadcast from a New York hotel. The Army Signal Corps arranged the broadcast by singer Luisa Tetrazzini from her room in the hotel.

Tetrazzini (1871-1940) was an Italian lyric coloratura soprano who had an enormous popularity in America from the 1900s-1920s. Several dishes were named after her, the origin of the “Tetrazzini” dish is unknown, but several newspaper articles attribute it to a famous chef (not named) in New York City. Luisa Tetrazzini supposedly gave her recipe for “Spaghetti Tetrazzini” to Louis Paquet, Executive Chef of the McAlpin Hotel on Herald Square in New York City. Luisa Tetrazzini would subsequently take cooking lessons from Chef Louis Paquet of the McAlpin Hotel on how to make his Spaghetti Tetrazzini before embarking on one of her concert tours.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time with cooking: 1 h 35 minutes
Serves 4


  • 1 small head (±400g) cauliflower/broccoli mix
  • 125g extra-wide egg noodles
  • 4 T butter
  • 125g assorted fresh mushrooms or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 T corn flour/Maizena
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1t salt or to taste
  • 1-2 cups shredded roast chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or similar
  • 3T fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped



1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Steam your broccoli/cauliflower until it brightens up, ±2 min. They will continue to cook and soften once in the oven, so don’t overcook at this stage. Cut into bite-size florets.

2. Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles to just shy of al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in the mushrooms and cook until tender and browned. Then add the red onions and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic for a further minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Deglaze with the sherry, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Throw in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg.

4. Combine with the cauliflower/broccoli, noodles, chicken and sauce. Transfer to a casserole dish.

5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave, then throw in the bread crumbs and toss to combine.

6. Add the cheese and mix. Then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the casserole. Bake until hot, bubbling and golden, 35 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley. Divide among plates.

7. Cook’s Note: The unbaked casserole (without the breadcrumbs) can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal.

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