Luisa Tetrazzini was a short and stout celebrated Italian opera singer in the early 1900s who, like many other food-loving celebrities, had a dish named after her. Her love-hate relationship with New York saw her eventually settle in San Francisco, where she died in poverty and ill health.
It is believed that this dish was first created by chef Ernest Arbogast at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, where the famed Luisa often dined.
There is no universal standard for the dish, it is often made with diced chicken or seafood with mushrooms and almonds. Ingredients are often substituted or removed in recipe variations. For example, some call for another kind of nut, or different hard cheese. Usually made with spaghetti, but again, any kind of pasta can be used.
The name is often expanded to describe the specific meat used like Tuna Tetrazzini or Shrimp Tetrazzini.
The version below is my tribute to the late, great diva.
Serve with some crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine.
560 g (4 cups) cooked diced chicken
salt and pepper
225 g (8 oz) spaghetti, cooked and drained
90 ml (6 tbsp) butter
225 g (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
60 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) light cream or half-and-half
500 ml (2 cups) chicken broth
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry sherry
75 ml (1/3 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
ground sweet paprika
Heat the oven to 220 C (425 F). Butter a 21/2- to 3-quart baking dish. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Meanwhile, in a pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat; saut© sliced mushrooms until cooked. In a saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter; stir in flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until smooth; add chicken broth and cream. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened. Add chicken, cooked mushrooms, and sherry; heat through. Place noodles or spaghetti in a buttered baking dish; pour on sauce. If you like you can toss the sauce and pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 220 C (425 F) for 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serves 6.