Thanksgiving in my home is usually just the two of us. Every year, the spouse says “Let’s just get a turkey breast this year.. no need to get a whole bird.” But every year I get a whole turkey anyway. I really enjoy roasting a whole bird and take a lot of pleasure in the process. Besides, if I didn’t get a whole bird, there wouldn’t be any leftovers.
Let’s face it, part of the joy of Thanksgiving is eating turkey until you’re stuffed (no pun intended.. ok, maybe a little pun was intended)
Growing up in my family, left over turkey meant hot turkey sandwiches. Thick slabs of roast turkey on white bread, slathered in gravy with a hefty dose of pepper and cranberry relish on the side. We ate those for days. (… and days.. and days.. I honestly think Mom was happy to not have to cook for a bit)
When the spouse and I had our first Thanksgiving together, she asked if I would make Turkey Tetrazzini out of the leftovers. I had no idea what it was. Evidently, leftovers in her family meant creamy turkey casserole with peas and mushroom soup. Since that first Thanksgiving, we’ve had it every year we’ve been together and although it’s a humble dish, it holds special place in my heart for that reason.
There are many incarnations of tetrazzini out there and I used to use a can of cream of mushroom soup until I realized how simple it was to make that myself. Like any other casserole, the creamy base is what really makes it come together so be sure to taste it before you mix it in with the rest of your ingredients. You may like more salt, pepper or thyme than we do.
Best part? Are you totally turkey-d out? Freeze it. Instead of buttering your casserole dish, line it with aluminum foil and cover the top with plastic wrap. Pop it in the freezer and when it’s completely frozen, lift it out of the dish by the foil and wrap your brick of tetrazzini tightly additional foil. When you take it out of the freezer to thaw, pop it back in that same casserole dish so you can just stick it in the oven when it’s thawed. Easy peasy.
RECIPE: TURKEY TETRAZZINI
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 ounces of egg noodles, cooked until al dente (about 5 minutes)
- 2 Tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 cup of sour cream (8 ounce container)
- 2 cups of peas
- 2-3 cups of cooked turkey, either shredded or chopped
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme, stripped
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat and saute the chopped mushrooms and minced garlic until soft
- Add the butter and stir until melted
- Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mushrooms are coated with a roux
- Slowly stir in stock, cooking until thickened
- Stir in the milk, sour cream, thyme leaves and pepper and cook for a few minutes until it comes together like a creamy soup. Taste. Adjust seasoning as desired.
- Combine turkey, peas, noodles and 1 cup of Parmesan in a large heatproof bowl.
- Pour the mushroom “soup” over the turkey mixture and stir until combined. Does it look dry? add more milk. Does it look too wet? don’t worry, the noodles will suck it up since they are only par cooked.
- Spread the tetrazzini mixture into the casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over the top.
- Bake covered for about 20 minutes until bubbly. Remove cover and bake for another 10 minutes or so to get a crunchy top.