Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Last of the Leftovers

Last night I used not only one of my new cookbooks, The American Century Cookbook but I also finally used most of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. We had one half of turkey breast left and frankly I think if I had suggested that MBH eat the turkey "as is" he would have taken the cat and run screaming from the house. So, I decided to channel a little 1950's housewife and make a time honoured classic dish as a way to use the left over turkey, Turkey Tetrazzini.

One of the things I really like about the The American Century Cookbook are the stories behind why Jean Anderson included the recipes she did. She give the provenience of each recipe and often gives the "classic" interpretation of the recipe as well as the common or updated version. Apparently, Tetrazzini recipes became popular during the very early part of the last century as a way to honour the visit of the Italian coloratura soprano, Luisa Tetrazzini. The classic recipe calls for a white sauce with dry sherry and mushrooms added to pasta and turkey or chicken cubes and then baked. In the middle of the last century, Campbell's soup created a version using the ubiquitous Cream of Mushroom soup as a base. As I have never been fond of using Cream of Mushroom soup for anything but green bean casserole and for soup, I decided to go traditional. Surprisingly, MBH kinda liked it...

Almost Classic Turkey Tetrazzini
adapted from Jean Anderson's American Century Cookbook

5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (the remainder of the container from Thanksgiving)
1 cup light cream (the remainder of my coffee creme, used before it expired)
2 tablespoon dry sherry (I used dry Riesling, the remainder left over from Thanksgiving)
3/4 freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded swiss cheese (left over from making carrot/turnip puff for Thanksgiving)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 bag frozen sweet peas (left over from beef stew several weeks ago)
3/4 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
3 medium scallions sliced thinly
1 lb pasta, cooked al dente (I used some leftover bow tie pasta from my pantry)
4 cups diced turkey (the almost last of the 14 lb Thanksgiving bird)
2 cups buttered saltine cracker crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish and set aside. Melt 3 tablespoon of butter in a heavy sauce pan over moderate heat. Blend in flour to make a roux. When roux is just turning brown, add chicken broth and stir constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Mix in cream, wine, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and Swiss cheese, and pepper. Stir with whisk about 3 - 5 minutes until completely combined and remove from heat. Melt remaining butter in saute pan over moderate heat. Add mushrooms and scallions and saute until just limp and fold into sauce. In large bowl combine peas, pasta, turkey and sauce. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Add cracker crumbs for last ten minutes of baking. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 -10 minutes until firm. Serve with a tossed salad and white wine.