Tina Bester – aka Cape Town’s fabulous Queen of Tarts – calls this pasta dish “heaven in a pan” and my family readily agree: we simply love it! Tina admits the dish, which comes from one of her earliest cookbooks, comfort (Quivertree Publications), takes her straight back to her gran’s breakfast nook. I first met Tina, one of those endlessly, and enviably, creative people, years ago when she was a designer on Cosmopolitan and I was writing for FEMINA. Then she followed her dream and opened her café and catering business, Queen of Tarts, in Observatory. The rest is delicious, scrumptious history, What I love about the recipes in comfort is that they are homely and simple but packed with flavour. Many of them, like this one, have also been passed down through the generations. On the day we chatted about the recipe, Tina had just made it after a long while. Her beloved gran died last September “at the grand old age of 97”.
Gran’s Chicken Tetrazzini
1 roast chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 slices streaky bacon, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and finely sliced
8-10 spring onions, chopped
4 black mushrooms, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
625 ml homemade chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 g spaghetti
Remove all the meat from the chicken and set it aside. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and fry the green pepper for a few minutes, then add the spring onions. Fry for a few more minutes, then add the mushrooms.
Add the chicken and heat through. Remove from the heat, sprinkle the flour over the chicken mixture, and slowly add the stock, stirring gently to make sure that no lumps of flour form.
Once all the flour is mixed in, return the pan to the heat and cook gently until the stock has thickened slightly. Season to taste and set aside.
In the meantime, cook the spaghetti until just done, pour off the water and the sauce to the spaghetti. Stir together gently and serve.
thank you so much, Tina! This recipe is from comfort by Tina Bester (Quivertree Publications). Tina is also the author of the bestselling cookbooks celebrate, tarts and jampacked, all published by Quivertree Publications.
Pop into Queen of Tarts at 213 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town for breakfast, tea or lunch. Tina also offers a catering service.
IMAGES: CRAIG FRASER