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Chicken Tetrazzini & Luisa Tetrazzini

Posted in Facts, Features, history of foods, and recipes

Recently I have gotten a few emails from those of you looking for a Chicken Tetrazzini recipe, so I wanted to share it here. But this recipe as many of the true Italian recipes has some history attached to it..I am going to share some of that too. The story behind it is just as beautiful as the dish itself…

Luisa Tetrazzini was born in Florence in 1871. It is said that she began singing at the age of 3 after her older sister- who was a soprano- began teaching her to sing Luisa did her opera debut at age 19 in the opera “Africana” written by the composer Meyerbeer. In the Teatro Pagliano in Florence.


After many Singing tours in Europe, South America, Spain, Mexico in she was chosen to play the role of Violet in the opera La Traviata at  Covent Garden in 1907 she repeated the role there until 1912.


The critics always favorably wrote about her excellent singing voice especially noting her excellence in the roles of Violet in La Traviata and Gilda in the opera Rigoletto by Verdi.


She sang in public, always with a crystal clear voice until 1934 and died penniless in 1940 after her many ex husbands left her with many debts. It is said that before she died, she said: I am old, ugly and fat…. but I am always Tetrazzini”

 Pollo alla Tetrazzini:Copyright 2008, Maria Liberati, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, revised edition, Ingredients: (for 4  people)

1. tablespoon of  softened butter
1 onion cut in thin strips
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
3 cups of finely chopped fresh mushrooms
½ tsp of salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary
1 pinch of cayenne (hot) pepper
¼ cup of flour
2 cups of milk
1 ½ cups of chicken broth
½ cup of dry white wine
1 lb of short pasta-penne, rigatoni
4 cups of chicken or turkey cut into strips
1 tsp of freshly chopped parsley
¼ cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
1 tblsp of butter
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
1 cup of fine, plain breadcrumbs
2 tsps of freshly chopped parsley
2 tsps of chopped almonds or hazelnuts
2 tsps of parmiginao-reggiano cheese


In a non-stick or heavy sauté pan, melt butter. Place in chopped garlic, onion and when they begin to become golden (careful not to burn) add in mushrooms,  thyme and rosemary, let all of the liquid of the mushrooms absorb and dissipate (a few minutes).
Add in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with wooden spoon. Slowly add in the milk, carefully stirring with wooden spoon, so as not to burn mixture.  The n add in broth and wine a little at  a  time, all the time stirring. Continue cooking until sauce becomes thick and creamy and just until mixture begins to boil.
Quickly remove from heat before it begins to boil. Cook pasta till al dente. Add in chicken or turkey strips to the sauce, also add in fresh parsley and parmigiano cheese. Drain pasta. While pasta is hot place in sauce and toss.

Place this in a casserole dish. Preheat oven for 375. For the topping. In a small pan, melt butter at low heat, place in garlic and let brown. Add in breadcrumbs, fresh parsley and ptarmigan cheese. Mix well. Place this on top of casserole and bake for 30 minutes or until top is brown, or a t last 2 minutes place under broiler to brown.


One Comment

  1. m. havron
    m. havron

    could you tell me what type(s) of wine luisa tetrazzini liked.

    August 20, 2009

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