Chicken Tetrazzini (with photos and thoughts on the vegetarian 'fake' chicken bits from long term storage)



I mentioned last weekend I brought out the very first cans of long term food storage I had ever bought, when I had no idea of what to do, how to do it, or what we needed.  I just knew I wanted to start to seriously dive into food storage as we had just moved into our new home 1000 miles away and had to start from scratch.

My first-ever purchase included a kit that had vegetarian beef, vegetarian chicken, vegetarian ham and vegetarian taco meat. I had never actually HAD soy based 'fake' foods before so I thought it was a great deal as it was so, so cheap.  Well, luckily I quickly realized I wanted to invest in 'real' meats and not fake soy stuff... but for the record, I have these on hand and last week I brought them out of long term storage and am now finding ways to use them.

Because these were long term, I didn't open them to try them at that time, but a few years later I had bought freeze dried meals and pouches for one of the cross country camping/hiking trips I made with one of my daughters.  We had the imitation taco meat on that trip and it was... horrible.  Awful.  Disgusting.  So bad that neither of us could eat it no matter how hungry we were, and we ended up throwing it out.  

Because I know how terrible the fake 'taco' meat was on that trip, I was really dreading using the fake meats this month, but I took a deep breath and opened the 'vegetarian chicken'.

Oh wow, what a happy surprise upon first opening... it wasn't terrible.  

It looked nothing like chicken - freeze dried or otherwise - but when I grabbed a few crunchy fake chicken pieces and tasted them, they were... actually pretty good.  Not chicken really, but more of a crispy 'snack' with a faint chicken taste (?).  I brought some to my husband.  He tried them and said they reminded him of the corn based snack "Funyuns" with an onion flavor.  I mostly tasted a chicken flavor similar to the "Chicken and Biskit" crackers I recall my Mom buying when I was little.



The instructions say to rehydrate them 2-to-1 with water.  I decided to rehydrate them with real chicken, by cooking them all together in my instant pot - making ready to go 'cooked chicken' for other recipes.  Some people buy the rotisserie chicken from membership warehouses to keep on hand for quick "cooked chicken" recipes but when I've done that in the past, I can taste weird chemicals or strong 'odd' flavors so I don't actually buy or use those anymore and always make my own homemade. 

I just cook chicken breasts or thighs in my instant pot with some salt/pepper and sometimes other seasonings then package them in food sealed bags for the freezer. 

This time I mixed layers of my chicken breasts with the vegetarian 'chicken' pieces from my food storage.



Here is what it looked like when it was done.  I was just getting ready to shred it all and food seal it for the freezer... but was using some of it for dinner tonight as well.




Tonight's dinner was Chicken Tetrazzini - and improvised with food storage items.  


Chicken Tetrazzini

1/2 c chopped onion
1 stick butter
1 t flour
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 c chicken broth
1 c half and half or cream or milk
1 small jar diced pimento
3-4 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/4 c Parmesan
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked
2 c cheddar, shredded 

Saute' the onion in butter.  Add the flour, salt and pepper.  Cook 1 minute, add in the soup, broth, half and half and pimentos.  When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.  Drain spaghetti and place in a 9X13" pan.  Cover with chicken, sprinkle with parmesan.  Pour the sauce over all and stir a bit to blend evenly.  Sprinkle top with cheddar and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until bubbly.


I had 1/2 of a large, fresh onion for this one that needed to be used up, and used a can of my home pressure canned butter to saute' it.  The can of soup came form my short term storage pantry and the broth was made with cubed bouillon with water.  I still have heavy cream in the refrigerator so I used that this time (although later I'll be using evaporated milk or powdered milk) and I left out the pimentos as I haven't stocked any of those and we never miss them.

The chicken was the mixture from my instant pot of fake vegetarian chicken from my long term food storage in the #10 can, cooked with a package of real chicken breasts and then shredded/chopped.  The spaghetti was from short term food storage and I decided not to use any cheddar as it's not needed, is mostly for color and I just sprinkled a little more Parmesan on instead.

*This was SO SO GOOD.  Seriously.  5 out of 5 stars made from food storage items.  No complaints at all and I'd be happy to even serve this to guests.  We had it with some of my homemade bread (making each day as I've posted before) from my no-knead, 3 ingredient refrigerator recipe.  If you have fake vegetarian soy 'chicken' to use up in your food storage, this is an excellent way to do it.  If you don't have real chicken to cook it with - it doesn't matter.  This recipe is one you could rehydrate it with water and then use in this and it would be so, so good!  No worries.


The butter was home canned this time instead of from the freezer.  I use both right now.  This particular one was canned in 2020.  Still just as perfect and 'fresh' as ever.  When/if I don't have any butter options, I would saute onions or rehydrated dried onions in an oil or even water, and then sprinkle butter powder over the hot spaghetti or mix the butter powder into the sauce to get a butter flavor (but never try to reconstitute butter powder and use it to cook or saute' because it won't work).

The fake chicken mixed with a little bit of real chicken, on top of the pasta in the pan

The sauce poured on top, blended a little and extra Parmesan on top - ready to go into the oven

Straight from the oven, hot and bubbling.  I let it sit about 10 minutes, it thickened up perfectly and was OH SO GOOD.


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