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Mike Filigenzi

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RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Mike Filigenzi » Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:32 am

It's been chilly and rainy around here, and I've been craving the kind of foods one eats with such weather. Today, it was casserole. After looking around Epicurious a while, I came across this recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole. Like many of us, I grew up with the stuff. It was a quick weeknight meal that you could get kids to eat. I checked in with my wife and found she felt the same way I did about it, so it was on.

That said, this recipe is not what my mom used to make. For one thing, there's no cream of mushroom soup to be found. It includes lots of fresh mushrooms and a bit of sherry. And it really comes out beautifully. I'll post the recipe as it is written, but I made a few changes for tonight's supper. I added some morels that I rehydrated along with their rehdrating water. I used gruyere instead of cheddar cheese. And I used panko rather than white bread crumbs. It was a real hit.

Tuna Noodle Casserole (from the May 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine via Epicurious.com):

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (total)
10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup Sherry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (6-oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
6 oz dried curly egg noodles (preferably Pennsylvania Dutch style; about 3 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
4 oz coarsely grated Cheddar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to saute mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Cook noodles in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.

Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Mike
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

- Julia Child
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Maria Samms

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Re: RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Maria Samms » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:32 pm

Sounds delicious Mike...thank you for the recipe, I will certainly give it a try!
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Jenise

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Re: RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Jenise » Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:21 pm

This looks like a version of the dish that might even appeal to someone for whom tuna noodle casserole wasn't a childhood staple.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Maria Samms » Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:36 am

Hello Mike,

I made this recipe last night and it was soooo good!

I made a few changes...I used heavy cream in place of the milk and left out the flour. I used tuna packed in water because I didn't have any in oil. I also added some petite peas.

Thank you so much for a great idea and recipe!
"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance" -Benjamin Franklin
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Re: RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Jenise » Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:39 pm

Mike, whenever I'm under the weather, meat is the first thing to go and yesterday was one of those days. By dinnertime, all I'd eaten was half a can of cold, plain kidney beans. And the only thing in the world that sounded good for dinner was this casserole, probably because it was unfamiliar to me--I only ate tuna-noodle casserole once before in life. I was 17, and it was a strange, lonely Asian version involving ketchup, mushroom soup and canned fried chinese chow mein noodles, which was prepared by a woman who was trying to date my father, and which I detested on a variety of levels. :)

Bob also had bad memories of this casserole from childhood. In fact, such was his mother's lack of skill that dishes like this branded both her sons with Casserole Fear for life. To the point that, when we married, he made me promise to never make ANY casseroles. (I didn't comply, I just quit using the C word.)

So, with that preamble, Recipe Report:

We loved it. LOVED it. But I made a few adjustments: I cooked 8 ounces of pasta and cut back on the sauce by a third, using about 10-11 ounces of strong chicken broth and 3 ounces each milk and half and half as this recipe sounded a bit wet for my tastes. I used about 2 tblsp of white vermouth instead of sherry, which I'm out of. I used 2 tblsp of soy sauce because I misread the recipe, and I used golden soy sauce instead of regular to keep the sauce blonder. I used only about 8 crimini mushrooms (1 cup, say) because that's all I had, but I probably wouldn't used more than that anyway. I used penne rigate because that was the only pasta I had on hand besides orzo and linguine, which would have made too dense a dish. For color, flavor but especially extra texture, I added about two tblsp of dried chives to the dish when I mixed the pasta and sauce. I used panko instead of fresh bread crumbs as there was no bread in the house, and I just plain forgot to add the lemon juice!

With no basis for comparison at all except a bad memory, I thought this result was absolutely perfect. It had a very sophisticated back note from the vermouth without tasting boozy, it had an intense flavor but was on the drier side as I prefer, and the cheddar-panko crust was delightfully chewy-crunchy. Having done it that way, I can't imagine not using panko again, nor would my husband allow it. He had very very high praise for that part.

Thanks for the recipe.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: RCP: Upscale Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:30 pm

I'm glad to hear you both liked it! I forgot to mention in the original post that I also used tuna in water and added peas to the mix. I agree with you on the panko, Jenise - it made a very tasty crust.

Mike
"People who love to eat are always the best people"

- Julia Child

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