I know Thanksgiving has long since gone, but since I just finished eating the last of the re-purposed leftovers, I don’t feel like I’m too out of the loop posting a turkey recipe. After all, even though chicken tetrazzini doesn’t have the same ring, it will taste just as good so really this recipe shouldn’t be stuck as a once-a-year indulgence.
If you’re unfamiliar with tetrazzini, it’s a glorious combination of noodles, diced turkey meat and rich cheesy sauce. It would be wrong to simply call it a casserole, though it’s baked to golden perfection in much the same way. I think it’s the ingredients that elevate it — tetrazzini uses a good amount of Parmesan, half-and-half (or heavy cream) and Sherry, making the sauce undeniably delicious.
Since there are tons of recipes for tetrazzini, I always have a hard time remembering each year how I made it the year before. This year I decided to go right to the best source — my mom. Growing up I was fairly obsessed with tetrazzini. I would beg her to to make it and then hoard the leftovers for my school lunches. (And being a good mom I think she let me get away with it.)
So last week my she sent me a scan of the recipe she has always used. I had found another recipe online that also sounded appealing and I cobbled the two into this version, which turned out pretty amazing. In fact, it was so good that I ate it for both lunch and dinner on Friday. Oh cheesy, creamy, noodles — I can’t quit you!
- 12 ounces spaghetti, cooked to al dente in salted water
- 3-4 cups of diced/shredded turkey or chicken
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped, sautéed until tender in butter or olive oil
- *1/2 pound button mushrooms, sautéed (these were NOT in my version as I hate mushrooms, but mushrooms are supposedly a required tetrazzini ingredient)
- 3 TBS butter
- 6 TBS flour
- 2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
- 3 TBS dry Sherry (or vermouth, or dry white wine)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Lemon juice — to taste
- Salt & Pepper
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring until bubbly, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in half-and-half, broth and Sherry.
Return to heat and stir until mixture has thickened. Add Parmesan and whisk until smooth. Add lemon juice, a bit of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to season well — you don’t want it to be bland.
Reserve one cup of mixture.
In a large bowl combine the remaining sauce with the noodles, meat, and cooked onions (and mushrooms if using). Pour into a greased casserole dish (9×12) and top with the 1 cup of reserved sauce.
Cover and bake at 400 degrees until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and broil until golden.
You can also make this up to two days in advance — it will just take an extra 15 minutes or so to cook.
Also since I never got around to actually doing a post about my Thanksgiving — here’s some snippets of the day. My husband and I drove to Ocean Shores, WA in the middle of the night to surprise my mom and my grandma. My step-dad was our accomplice, helping to ensure there would be enough food for all of us.
It was a gorgeous day at the beach (their house is walking distance from the ocean) and it was really the perfect way to spend the holiday, surrounded by good food and family. And yes, my mom was totally and utterly surprised to see us. I think she may have even cried — the sign of surprise success!