December 10, 2012

Smoked Tuna Skillet Dinner

I didn't grow up with tuna noodle casserole. My mother didn't buy canned fish, and the only pasta casserole that she made was a (delicious) baked spaghetti. I was highly sensitive to fish when I was young, we considered an allergy even though it wasn't a true anaphylactic risk. It was fairly unpleasant, and when the rest of the family was having fish, I usually had a fried egg instead. Also, I hated peas with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns. I'm over both of those things now, but you can only imagine how shocked my poor mom would be, if she could see me making this dish.

The beauty of not having a childhood tradition to draw on for tuna + noodles is that I don't have any sense of nostalgia forcing my hand in terms of specific ingredients, methodology or presentation in order to get it "right." I just get to mess around with some tasty food, and share the results with you.

This is a grown-up sort of skillet dinner - the smoked tuna is quite strong, so you don't need as much of it as some other recipes might suggest. If you can't get smoked tuna, you may wish to use a little extra of the regular kind, and perhaps add a drop or two of liquid smoke to get a similar effect. This recipe was adapted from Eating Well.

Smoked Tuna Skillet Dinner

Serves 4

200 g broad German egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
100 grams cremini mushrooms
2 teaspoons Mushroom Base (I use Better than Bouillon)
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups 1% Milk
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
160 grams Smoked Albacore Tuna
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Panko-style bread crumbs

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened. Add sherry and cook and stir until evaporated. Shake together the milk and flour until smooth. Add milk and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Then, stir in the dry noodles, along with an extra cup of hot water (the pan will be very full). Cook and stir until the noodles have absorbed the extra water, and are tender, and the sauce has thickened. If it starts looking too dry, add a little more water, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Stir in tuna (broken into small chunks), peas and 1/2 the Parmesan until evenly incorporated.

Sprinkle the casserole with panko and the remaining Parmesan. Broil until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 3 to 4 minutes. The broiler does dry the dish out a bit more (the one pictured is actually a little drier than I wanted it to be), so if you think it's just right going in...keep a close eye on it, or add an "insurance" tablespoon of water to loosen thing up.

There's not a lot of vegetables in this, obviously, so a nice broccoli on the side is a good idea (or tossed green salad, or other tasty plant of your choice).

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