I’ve been thinking a lot about chicken tetrazzini. That used to be one of my Mom’s special dinners. In the 50s-60s, chicken tetrazzini was the Betty Crocker epitome of elegance a la casserole, ranking high along side banana pudding with vanilla wafers and sweet potatoes with tiny mashmallows. Yeah. Post war abundance that lead to, I’m sure, the present fattening of America; felled by casserole mania and the craving for large, over rich portions of whatever. Still, chicken tetrazzini was good!
Feeling fairly “blaise” this Sunday with Thierry and M. Parret coming to lunch, I just followed my instincts and cooked in a non-stressful, can’t be bothered way with fairly aggressive suggestions from my refrigerator. The broccoli seemed to be particularly needy, so that was definitely happening. Of course, chicken thighs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, flour and baked in butter goes with everything. Ask anybody.
I came nowhere near to making chicken tetrazzini but it was on my mind when I was making this pasta to accompany the baked chicken.
Cheese plate beautifully arranged by M. Parret while whining about the shape of the platter I supplied. According to Le Parret, cheese is always properly presented on a round surface. While I, more courteous than he, suppressed wild, incredulous, ugly American laughter.
M. Parret made his famous “creme” or custard, this time beautifully sprinkled with groseilles or red currants.
Baked Chicken with Broccoli Pasta
1 head of broccoli, separated into florets
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups of milk
6-8 chicken thighs
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 lb fresh pasta
Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter, then whisking in the flour, cooking over a slow flame, whisking, for 2-3 minutes, just to cook the flour, not brown it. Whisking, slowly pour in the milk and continue to cook and whisk until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside.
Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and garlic powder, then dredge with flour. Heat the butter in a baking pan in a 400 F oven until melted. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken over, put back into the oven and continue to bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Boil the pasta until just cooked, about 3-4 minutes, drain, then add the broccoli. Reheat the bechamel sauce, adding a little milk if too thick. Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli, toss and serve immediately with the chicken.
Wine suggestion: Main course supplied by Thierry – Pouilly-Fuisse 2003. Cheese course supplied by M. Parret – Pomerol Baron Philippe 1985