Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole, Redux

 I really can't explain why, but the moment I saw this recipe, I couldn't stop thinking about it. You might think that I grew up eating tuna noodle casserole, and that nostalgia was at work -- but that's not it. There was just something about the combination of flavors -- shitake and portabello mushrooms, a rich roux, dry sherry, and crispy panko breadcrumbs -- that had me obsessed.

I knew that trying to sell my boyfriend on this for Sunday dinner would be tough, so I took advantage of his being away on a business trip to whip it up. Good thing, too, because I think I dirtied just about every pan in the kitchen, and he would have had a heart attack thinking that he would have to clean it all up.

I suppose that making tuna casserole the old fashioned way (i.e., with cream of mushroom soup and canned mushrooms) would have been simpler -- and not quite as messy. Nonetheless, after tasting this baby, I know that I can never go back. It's just so darned satisfying. Comfort food at its finest.

And because I'm by myself this week (and nursing a nasty head cold), it's all for me!

 Tuna Noodle Casserole, Redux
(from food52)

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
  • I cup diced portabello mushrooms 
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, miced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, miced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cans packed tuna, drained
  • 8 ounces egg noodles, cooked al dente and drained
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large sautee pan, heat 1 Tbs. of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off all of their liquid and cooked through (10 or so minutes). Season lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add another 1/2 Tbs. butter to the frying pan, then cook onion, shallot and celery together for about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chopped herbs and the sherry and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir the mushrooms into this mixture, then set this aside.
In a saucepan, heat 3 Tbs. of butter over medium-high until foaming. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the milk and chicken stock, bit by bit, to make a smooth sauce. Cook, stirring, until just slightly thickened (another minute or two). Then add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Flake the tuna and combine the tuna, the white sauce, the mushroom-onion mixture, and the noodles all together. Grease and 8X8 inch baking pan and transfer the casserole mixture into it.
In a small pan, melt the last Tbs. of butter. Stir in the minced garlic and the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until the panko is golden brown. Sprinkle this all over the casserole. Put the casserole in the oven and bake until it is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

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