An allergen-free take on chicken tetrazzini
The No Whey station in the main dining hall at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., offers students meals that are free of the eight most common allergens. When Brittany Parham, the dietitian who oversees the station, polled food-sensitive students on which favorites they missed most, “comfort foods” was the overwhelming response. Parham, who herself has food allergies, worked with chefs on the 20,000-student campus to focus on allergen-free versions of pasta bakes, biscuits, banana bread and other down-home dishes. Recently, the chefs reworked the school’s traditional chicken tetrazzini recipe into a dairy- and gluten-free option. “It took three tastings before we got it right,” says Parham, who uses students as taste tasters and solicits feedback through short surveys. It’s now a No Whey favorite, she says.
- It “took a bit of fine-tuning” to get the correct cooking time for the brown rice spaghetti, says Parham. The gluten-free product retained more water than traditional pasta, so cooking too long resulted in mush once it was sauced and baked. After three tries, the chefs figured out that six minutes of boiling worked best, she says.
- The original tetrazzini recipe uses sour cream and cheese as the base for a rich sauce; the substitution of rice milk and vegan cheese didn’t produce a similar texture and flavor, Parham says. So the dining hall chefs created a mushroom cream sauce, starting with a roux made from quinoa-rice flour and vegan butter. A mixture of rice milk and chicken broth is whisked into the roux to finish and smooth the sauce.
- In the classic recipe, the next step is to stir shredded mozzarella and Asiago into the thickened sauce until the cheeses melt, but vegan cheese tends to separate. Instead, the mushroom sauce is mixed with the cooked spaghetti and chicken, transferred to a baking dish and topped with vegan mozzarella cheese. “The tetrazzini takes a little longer to bake, but the cheese melts nicely and the finished dish is very close to the original,” says Parham.