Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The coloratura soprano Luisa Tetrazzini was a native of Florence, Italy, and a beloved international presence on the operatic stage of the early twentieth century. One of her favorite cities was San Fransisco, where she could often be heard singing. The dish chicken Tetrazzini was created in her honor by a San Fransisco chef. Chicken, pasta, cream sauce, mushrooms! Delicious morsels that glide from the plate onto the fork just as effortlessly as notes would glide from Tetrazzini's throat and surround her enchanted audience with their richness.  Below I have included her rendition of Rosina's aria 'Una Voce Poco Fa' from Rossini's 'Il Barbiere di Siviglia'. This recording was made in 1911. I hope you enjoy it. My recipe for chicken Tetrazzini follows.


1 chicken
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion studded with 4 cloves
1 large onion, finely chopped 
3 stalks celery with leaves, roughly chopped 
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce
4 tablespoons flour
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 package penne, 8oz
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup of a nice dry white wine
2 cups half and half at room temperature
2 cups hot chicken broth
8 ounces frozen baby peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves 

3 tablespoons riccotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs
sliced almonds


  • In a kettle place the chicken, onion with cloves, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, bay leaf and carrot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is tender. 
  • Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Reserve the meat, and place in a large bowl. Strain two cups of the chicken broth and reserve it, making sure it stays hot.
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  • Grease a 13” x 9” x 2” baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the peas and stir until they are well incorporated. If using wine add it and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture into the bowl with the chicken.
  • Melt 4 tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add 4 tablespoons flour and whisk until blended. Whisk in the reserved 2 cups hot broth, 2 cups half and half, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Increase the heat slightly. Simmer, whisking until the sauce thickens.  Turn off the heat add the ricotta cheese and mix well.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until it is al dente. Drain. Add the pasta, sauce and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

  • Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and almonds in a bowl to blend. Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until it's golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.


  1. Love the recipe! Any advice about making this dish ahead of time for a party? Thanks

    1. Just get the chicken ready ahead of time. Ideally everything else should be prepared right before serving. Just found your comment, which means that I've been away from this blog for too long. Sorry for the lateness of this reply, and thanks for stopping by.

  2. Wow... Ouch! What a dry, impersonal post I have here, and what sad looking pictures. The recipe though is spot on. I should at least share that fact with you, folks. I just revisited this page. It needs a do over. Louisa Tetrazzini deserves better.