Unintentionally the majority of the recipes on this blog have been vegetarian. I find that when I cook for myself I rarely eat meat but my partner is hungry an hour later if there is not a substantial amount of protein in the meal. With the exception of the spring onion crespelles, which contained bacon in the ragu as a flavoring, this the first recipe here on Feasting on Art to feature meat. The still life paintings depicting poultry and game are not the most attractive and I foresee a struggle with my photographic recreations. I managed to come up with a solution for the dead hen but I don’t always think it will be so easy. I hope you enjoy this warm and filling recipe.

Giacomo Ceruti, Still-Life with Hen, Onion, and Pot, c.1750s
oil on canvas, Private collection

Baroque artist Giacomo Ceruti was also known as Pitocchetto, Italian for little beggar, because of his numerous canvases featuring peasants begging. He is known for his realistic style of painting and often placed his still lifes and portraits in front of a dark background. He focused on genre paintings but also worked with still life and religious material. The simple composition of Still-Life with Hen, Onion, and Pot allows the viewer to read into the symbolism of each foodstuff place upon the canvas. Because Ceruti dabbled in religious art it is safe to assume his awareness of Christian symbolism. Typically in Renaissance art, game and poultry were used to represent Christ as a sacrificial victim. Renaissance scholars deduced that onions denoted the pain of causing sin and the corruption of the mind because they caused the eye to water. Within this context the hen paired with the onion tells the story of sin and sacrifice in the life of Jesus Christ.

Tetrazzini is a pasta dish of American origin although it is allegedly named after the Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini It was invented in San Fransisco about 100 years ago by Ernest Arbogast when he was the chef at the Palace Hotel. The dish typically contains non-read meat ranging from poultry to seafood. There is no standard recipe for the dish and it has traditionally been known to contain onions, celery, mushroom and carrots and can be topped with parsley, lemon, almonds, or Parmesan. Some sources cite the origin as being the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City.

{Chicken Tetrazzini}

adapted from Gourmet

2 c chicken stock (recipe below)
6 TB butter
package of mushrooms, sliced
2 TB flour
1 c thick cream
1 TB rice vinegar
one large handful of spaghetti noodles
meat off of half of a chicken, shredded
1/2 c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat half of the butter (3 TB) in a large skillet and sauté the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper. Keep stirring until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and they are a golden brown. Set aside.

Melt the rest of the butter (3TB) in a small sauce pan with the 2 TB of flour. Cook the roux continually whisking about three minutes. Then in a steady stream add the chicken broth while whisking. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile
, cook the spaghetti until al dente and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a baking dish and drain the pasta.

Toss
the spaghetti, mushrooms, and half of the cream sauce together in a large bowl. Add to the baking dish. Make a small well in the center of the pasta and add the remaining sauce along with the shredded chicken. Top with shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and golden on the top.

Serve immediately with additional shredded cheese and salt and pepper.

{Homemade Chicken Stock}

Bones from 5 chickens
2 large onions, quartered
1/2 head of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 TB olive oil
salt & pepper
2 bay leaves
1/4 c pink peppercorns
1 bunch of parsley
6 sprigs of thyme

Preheat
the oven to 450F.

Combine the chicken bones and vegetables with the oil in a large roasting dish. Roast until the bones and vegetables are a rich golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Transfer the bones and vegetables and any juices from the pan into a large pot. Add 14 cups of water and the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce
the heat to medium and simmer for about 4 hours occasionally skimming the surface to remove the scum.

Remove from the heat and strain. Place the liquid back on the stove over high heat to reduce by half.

When done let cool before refrigerating. Freeze in ice cube trays for a quick and easy way to add flavor to soups and pasta dishes. The flavour of this stock is very strong and I often mix it half and half with water to get to the desired measurement of stock. Otherwise all you taste is chicken.