Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas (Dinner)

Ever notice how some recipes you once made and loved now seem somehow dull or flat? Sadly, this was the case with my formerly-loved recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini that my sister gave me years ago.

It was always creamy and rich with Parmesan cheese so I knew going in that it wouldn't be a light meal. That's usually fine for winter dinners - I like them to be sustaining. This time, however, either my taste buds have atrophied or it was just too bland.

My besetting sin as a cook is that even while I'm eating a meal, I'm analyzing how I could have improved it instead of just enjoying it. Blame it on my science background. Anyway, this dish would be marvelous with just a few tweaks.

First, I'd have many more mushrooms and they'd be of more than one variety; I'd like more earthiness. Second, one can never have too much Parm/Reg, in my view - I'd double it.
I liked the crunch of celery lightly sautéed for texture and the turkey was tasty with the tangy sauce. I added frozen peas just before serving to thaw and lightly cook them, and that was a good idea - their sweetness was a nice foil to the tang of the cheese. I also added some coarsely chopped Italian parsley as garnish but next time I'd add lots more and stir it in so there would be little hits of intense green throughout the sauce. After I made this, I found a recipe online that mentioned adding almonds and I think that would be genius - some coarsely chopped raw or toasted almonds would be heaven.

See what I mean? Not a wholesale re-do, just a few tweaks, and this white Christmas dinner would be singing in a whole different key.

Turkey Tetrazzini
(Comments in parenthesis are the tweaks)

1 cup white sauce (melt 1 Tbs. butter, stir 1 Tbs. flour into it and cook for a few minutes; add 1 cup milk or half-and-half, a bit at a time, stirring constantly while the sauce thickens)
1 cup turkey (I used leftover from Thanksgiving) cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup cooked spaghetti, cut up (I never cut up pasta and I used linguine this time)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I'd use at least a cup and perhaps more, and I'd mix up the varieties)
1-2 stalks celery, sliced crosswise
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (I grated Parm/Reg freshly - it's worth the effort)
(1 cup of frozen or fresh peas, stirred in at the end just long enough to heat them)
(1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley)
(Coarsely chopped raw or toasted almonds for garnish)

Sauté mushrooms & celery in a little butter while making the white sauce. Combine the two, add the cheese and then the turkey pieces. Serve hot over spaghetti. (I made the white sauce in the same pan as I sautéed the veggies - just pushed them aside and made the sauce in the middle. It works fine and saves washing another pot)

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Blogger Greg said...

Never had turkey tetrazzini. Anything with butter,milk and parm has to be good.Trader Joe's has shaved parm/reg that makes wonderful snackage.

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Shall I tell you of the time a former boyfriend was served that dish, decades ago? The host had stupidly left it out on the counter overnight, and everybody got sick. They called it Turkey Tetracycline.

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger katiez said...

Sherry. You can't make good tetrazzini without copius amounts of a good dry sherry. And put some in the sauce as well ;-))
I just made it last night - great minds and all that....

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger katiez said...

oh.... Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I'm with katiez - add some Sherry - the good stuff, not the generic "cooking sherry" which is too sweet. Or a good white wine. Also, well, because I like a bit of spice, I'd also add some red pepper or paprika to zip up the creamy sauce.

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, will have to get me to Trader Joe's to try that! Or maybe I can just shave some of what I have at home?

Cookiecrumb, love the name! Poor guests!

KatieZ, now that sounds brilliant - sherry! Gonna do it next time. Joyeux Noël and drive carefully!

Nancy, another vote for sherry - and the pepper idea sounds intriguing, too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

i just tripped over Mojo and Oscar. I had one too many pieces of your Aunt Virgina's fruitcake. It was Yummy Noodles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, yes, Aunt Virginia is not afraid of brandy! She believes it keeps away the forces of evil! Merry Christmas!

We had our first taste of your fruitcake last night and loved it - so different from Aunt V's and so California with all those dried fruits and nuts. Aunt V would have added hooch to it but we thought it was perfect.

Friday, December 25, 2009  

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