Turkey Tetrazzini Made Simple!


Turkey tetrazzini can feed a large crowd.

Looking for more recipes to use up your leftover turkey? Why not “Italianize” your turkey meat and make Turkey Tetrazzini.  Just add some cooked pasta to the meat, along with a few other yummy ingrediets, and bake the dish al forno (in the oven) for a delicious and creamy main course.

Originally created as Chicken Tetrazzini, the dish is technically not Italian. But it was named for famed Italian coloratura soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini (1871 – 1940), one of the most well-known opera singers in the U.S. and Europe at the turn of the last century. Stories vary about whether this dish originated at a New York or a San Francisco restaurant. No matter…a little background on our diva before we get to the recipe.

Luisa Tetrazzini in full diva mode, inspired turkey tetrazzini.

Luisa Tetrazzini became famous during the Golden Age of Opera. She was beloved and flamboyant, known as much for her love affairs as for her dazzling voice. It was rumored she consumed a quart of wine with dinner before her performances. In 1910 she was under contract to Oscar Hammerstein for her U. S. performances. Apparently they quarreled over money. She wanted to sing in her adopted city of San Francisco. He insisted that contractually she should perform in New York City. She would not be deterred and announced if she couldn’t sing in a San Francisco concert hall, she would sing on the street. And she did just that on Christmas Eve 1910. The city built a platform to hold an orchestra and a 50-person chorus and thousands showed up to see their favorite diva. Luisa made her entrance wearing a huge hat and an ostrich boa and regaled the crowd with her beautiful voice for 30 minutes, ending with “Auld Lang Syne” as the enchanted crowd joined in.

Here is a recording of Luisa Tetrazzini singing an aria from Bellini’s “La Sonnambula”.

Enjoy it while you eat your turkey tetrazzini and drink a quart of wine in her honor.


Chicken (or Turkey) Tetrazzini

Yield: Serves 8

Total Time: One hour



  • 4 cups cooked turkey or chicken
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 6 tables butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 egg yolks

To finish

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese




  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Tear or cut the meat into bite-size pieces.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet and over moderate heat, saute the mushrooms about 5 minutes until they are just soft.
  3. Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. At the boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and drop in the penne. After 3 minutes drop in the broccoli and cook with the penne an additional 3 minutes. Do not overcook either the pasta or the broccoli as they will cook some more in the oven.  Drain and set aside.  Note: broccoli is not traditionally a part of this dish but I added them so my children would get some green vegetables and then I wouldn't have to make an additional dish.
  4. In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the flour and mix together with a whisk. Still whisking, gradually pour in the chicken stock, the cream and the sherry. Cook over high heat until it boils then reduce the heat to moderate. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, then whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 minutes then remove the pan from the heat.
  5. To assemble, coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the pan. Over the sauce, pour 1/2 the pasta/broccoli mixture.  Spread half the mushrooms over the pasta.  Layer half the meat over the mushrooms. Repeat the layers, starting with 1 cup of the sauce, with the remainder of the pasta, broccoli, mushrooms and meat. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the dish.
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve this dish directly after baking.

2 Responses to “Turkey Tetrazzini Made Simple!”

  1. #
    Sylvana Foa — July 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    This sounds fantastic. Do you think I could leave out the penne and just make it with the broccoli?? It is the middle of July …swimsuit weather, if you get what I mean.

    • #
      Barbara — July 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      You can do anything you want to a recipe but it’s like making bacon and eggs without the eggs. Tetrazzini consists usually of the noodles, the meat and the white sauce. I added the broccoli to make a one-stop dish. I think it might be runny without the pasta but give it a try. There’s always bathing suit season next year!

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