Chicken, ermmm, Almondzini


Yup – that’s what some mid-century copywriter (for Blue Diamond Almonds, of course) called this casserole – a (now) obvious riff on Chicken Tetrazzini. In truth, this recipe seems to be just that – a classic Tetrazzini, right down to the last-stage passing of parmesan for sprinkling. It is just missing the addition of fresh parsley and lemon as final touches – a fact that makes me wish I’d done my research BEFORE we had it for dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice. It just needed a little, ermmm, something; I added a few dollops of Cajun Power (see ‘Stuff I Like’) and some crushed red pepper – but a bit of fresh squoze lemon and the bright, slightly peppery crunch of parsley would’ve been very nice indeed. I think it would also be a good thing to double up on the spices and seasonings called for (which, another good thing, I’ve already greatly enhanced over the original recipe).

CAVeggiesSpicesbfLOThe original recipe called for using leftover chicken (or turkey), neither of which I had on hand. I DID have some chicken legs in the freezer; and just like that, a plan was hatched! Since I had to cook the chicken anyway; why not also make a stock that I could then use to cook the pasta?

Shall we begin?

•6 chicken legs
•6 cloves garlic
CAStockbfLO•8 drops Tabasco Chipotle
•5 stalks celery
•2 or 3 carrots
•1 medium onion
•Pepper corns
•Parsley (I used dried)
•Chives (I used dried)
•Bay leaf
•Crushed red pepper

The Main Event:
•3/4 cup mayonnaise
•1/3 cup flour
•1 medium onion, diced
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp celery salt
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp parsley
•2-1/4 cup milk
•1 cup shredded swiss cheese
•1/3 cup white vermouth
•7 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained – I used the stock for this, with enough water added to fill the pot – nice!
•2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (or turkey) – if you don’t have leftovers, or don’t want to make stock; I’m guessing no one would feel the worse about you for using chicken or turkey from the deli
•10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
•1-1/4 cup sliced almonds – I roasted mine at 350º for ten minutes
•2 (4 oz.) cans mushrooms, drained – obviously, if you’re fungus averse, you can skip these
•1/4 cup chopped pimiento, drained
•1 chopped fire-roasted pepper

First, the stock: combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove chicken legs and let cool, then remove the skin,  pull from the bone, and chop.

Strain and skim the stock.

CAReadyToBakebfLOHeat oven to 350º.

Combine mayonnaise, flour, and seasonings in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Add cheese and wine, stirring until the cheese melts.

CaBakedbfLOToss lightly with the chicken, spaghetti, broccoli, 3/4 cup of the almonds, ‘shrooms, and pimiento. It might not hurt to stir in the zest of one lemon at this point, either.

Turn into an 8 x 12 baking dish, cover with foil, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. You MIGHT want to put the baking dish on a larger rimmed pan, mine dripped a bit.

Remove the foil, top with remaining 1/2 cup almonds and bake for an additional ten to fifteen minutes.

Serve with grated Parmesan, fresh parsley, and lemon wedges.

Nice, as I said; but it DOES need something – the fresh parsley and lemon would have been lovely – and maybe, as noted above, doubling the seasoning when making the cheese sauce. Rich gave it a pass as a lunch option today, but is thinking he’ll give it a try again tomorrow, once the flavors have had time to blend.

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