This recipe was given to me about 7 years ago by one of my best friends, Bekah. All the girls would get together and someone would make dinner and we would catch up on the latest Real Housewives episode. We would sit around and have a girls night in and talk about the episode like we personally knew these women. If you knew my girlfriend Bekah, you would know that she didn’t have the greatest reputation in the kitchen back then. In college we let her make us Kraft macaroni and cheese. It turned out, that she put all the contents that was in the box into the boiling water and we ended up with orange noodles from boiling the powdered cheese with it. We salvaged it by putting butter on the orange noodles and topping it with parmesan cheese (we were in college people! Girls on a budget). Don’t let this discourage you from trying out this recipe! Bekah has come a long way from our college years, she’s now a mother of two and doting Army wife that is devoted to clean eating. I tweaked this recipe a little just to add some crunch to the dish and Scott loves broccoli with his creamy pastas so I couldn’t resist adding it! This is a great dish to make ahead of time too and bake it off when you are ready, especially if you are entertaining a girls night in!
Instructions to make ahead of time can be found at the end of the recipe.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2-3lbs bone-in skin on split chicken breast (if you want to save time you can buy the pre made strips of chicken they sell at the grocer for fajitas, I roast my own chicken then slice it myself *recipe follows)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt & pepper to season chicken before roasting
16 oz box of spaghetti pasta (I used Linguine just because it’s a wider noodle, I also recommend using penne or fettuccine will work too)
2 large heads of broccoli, chopped
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (I like using cremini- small brown mushrooms, but you can use white ones if you’d like)
1 cup diced white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of flour (4 tablespoons)
2 cups of good chicken broth (or homemade broth)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese- Bekah used a mix of swiss, cheddar, and parmesan (I used a blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese instead)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese- don’t you dare use the one in the green shaker! find the grated kind in the refrigerated section
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoon of chopped parsley (this is purely optional)
Preheat oven 425 degrees F for roasting the chicken. If you opted for the precooked chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees to bake the tetrazzini later.
First we want to roast the chicken before starting any prep work because it takes the longest. Any time I add chicken to pasta this method is one of two ways I like to prepare it. I have a healthier way that I’ll share later in another post.
Season the bone-in split chicken breast all over with salt and pepper. Coat chicken on both sides with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast chicken in the preheated 425 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or more until internal temperature is 165 degrees and juices run clear. Remove from oven and set aside, letting it cool. I like to roast the chicken on the bone because it gives it more flavor. Once you removed the chicken from the oven drop the temperature to 350 degrees F to have it ready to bake the tetrazzini once it’s all assembled.
Boil heavily salted water in a large stock pot and cook pasta al dente (so it has a little bite back) per packaging. You don’t want to overcook your pasta for this recipe or any recipe for that matter. The last 5-6 minutes of cooking time add the broccoli to the pasta. The package of linguine I had bought said a total cook time of 6 minutes, so I added the broccoli in once the water started boil again after adding the pasta. Once cooked to perfection, drain and set aside for assembly later.
In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt butter. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic sautéing for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Sprinkle flour in the skillet and whisk together letting the flour cook for 1-2 minutes. You want to cook off the flour taste and create a roux in the pan. Slowly stir in broth, milk, and heavy cream. Lower heat and simmer until sauce is thickened. Turn off heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the chicken is cooled enough to handle, discard skin (I love to snack on the crunchy skin while I’m cooking because I’m a weirdo and can’t resist just throwing it away) and remove chicken from the bone, then slice. Toss the sliced chicken with the cooked pasta and broccoli into the cream sauce.
In a small bowl mix the grated parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. If you want to get real fancy with it you can mix in a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley to give it color.
Spray a 9X13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Fill the casserole dish with the pasta cream mixture. Resist the urge to just eat everything as is!! Trust me, I had to stop myself too! It all smells so good, but it’ll be even better once you bake it! Top the dish off with the cheese-breadcrumb mixture and bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly goodness! You can broil the last 5 minutes if you are getting really impatient like I did in order to get that golden crust. Just keep an eye on it when you are broiling. Things can escalate quickly and next thing you know your golden crust is black toast!
Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving, it will be piping hot but well worth it.
***You can make this ahead of time if you’d like. A few ways to do so is to roast the chicken ahead of time and refrigerate. Sometimes I’ll roast a few chickens for the week so when I make a couple of chicken pasta dishes for dinner that week I have them on hand. I rewarm the sliced chicken in the cream sauce while it is thickening. Another way to make ahead of time is to roast the chicken, cook the pasta, make the cream sauce and then refrigerate components separately. When you are ready to bake add all the ingredients in the prepared casserole dish and bake with crumb topping. Lastly, you can freeze this dish as well. Instead of putting it in the oven to bake as instructed at the end of the recipe, cover and freeze. When you are ready to cook, bake as originally directed until top is golden and everything is warmed through.
This dish is dedicated to one of my lifelong friends and sister Rebekah Goodner (formerly Eustis).