Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers...Turkey Tetrazzini

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On or about Day 4 or 5 after Thanksgiving, when you start reconsidering whether you will ever eat turkey again, this casserole begins to sound appealing.  It is also about the time when you dig out what's leftover of the turkey carcass in the refrigerator and hate to throw away all the nice meat around the bones.  It is also the day when you are too tired to contemplate making turkey croquettes and freezing them for an off day during the holidays.  Yes, the day has arrived to make turkey tetrazzini, an old fashioned casserole which consists of egg noodles or spaghetti, turkey, mushrooms and a cream sauce.  I know it sounds old fashioned and passe', but everything has its time and place, and turkey tetrazzini's is on Thanksgiving + 4.

Tetrazzini is an American pasta dish that is thought to have been invented in San Francisco and named after the famous opera singer of the early 1900s, Luisa Tetrazzini, who lived there for many years.  There must be something between food and opera singers since so many dishes were named after them!

Serves 4 to 6


12 oz spaghetti, linguini or other pasta

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 4-5 cups)

1 medium shallot finely diced (optional) added 11/30/2012

8 TB unsalted butter ( plus another 3 TB to saute mushrooms)

8 TB  all-purpose flour

3 cups of milk

1 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup dry sherry (or vermouth or dry white wine)

3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey

1 small jar chopped pimentos OR 1 cup frozen peas

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (divided into 1/3 and 1/3 cups)

1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

Ground nutmeg (optional)

1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (or panko)

Freshly chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Start heating 2 to 3 quarts of water for the pasta. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water.

2 Cook the mushrooms  (and shallots) in 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat, stirring, until all of the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated, 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

3 In a large, heavy saucepan, melt  8 TB of butter. Stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes.

4 About now, put the pasta into the boiling water you've heated. Follow the package directions and cook until al dente. While the pasta is cooking continue on with the recipe.

5 Into the saucepan with the butter and flour, slowly whisk in the milk, broth, and the sherry. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 to 8 minutes.

6 When the pasta is ready, drain it. In a large bowl combine the pasta, the sauce, the mushrooms, the turkey, and the pimentos or peas. Stir in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan and the 1/3 cup of Gruyere cheese. Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note that if you have been using unsalted butter, and/or unsalted or low sodium stock, you will need to add more salt than you might expect. Just keep sprinkling it in until it is seasoned to your taste. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg if using, again to taste. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 3-quart casserole.

7 In a small bowl combine well the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tetrazzini, and dot the top with 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits.

8 Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.

Garnish individual servings with chopped parsley.

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