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NOT YOUR MOTHER’S TUNA CASSEROLE WITH DILL AND POTATO CHIPS

NOT YOUR MOTHER’S TUNA CASSEROLE WITH DILL AND POTATO CHIPS
Andrew Baraghani of Bon Appetit

LUSCIOUS AND CRISPY, SALTY AND FULL FLAVOR, CREAMY RICH IN CHEESE, FILLED WITH MUSHROOMS, LEEKS AND ONIONS AND CHUNKS OF THE BEST TUNA, THIS TUNA CASSEROLE WITH DILL AND POTATO CHIPS WILL AMAZE YOU.

Yes, I did cook this.  I know, I know, I know.  But there was something almost primal in its appeal.  Oddly, I didn’t grow up anywhere near a Tuna casserole.   It might have been grounds for divorce in our family. But what intrigued me about Bon Appetit’s return to this 50s classic was that they made no attempt to cover up its roots  The author of the piece, a man named Andy Baraghani, went full bore on how he had revisited the recipe and re-invented it.  It will amaze you with its great taste.  But let’s face it: since your mother or grandmother made it, we’ve all become foodies.

A Tuna Casserole with Dill and Potato Chips is shown in a blue cast iron baking dishTHE COMMENTS ON BON APPETIT’S TUNA CASSEROLE WITH DILL AND POTATO CHIPS WERE INTENSE.

A clamor arose from this generation of American foodies. I will limit it to one Twitter post: “Wow. You guys have hit the skids.”  Au contraire, Andy Baraghani hit upon an absolutely impeccable take on the dish. It is simultaneously packed with flavor, and creaminess and the tuna, mushroom, onion, and leek combination could not work better together.  The potato chips provide crunch in every bite. The dish even looks beautiful with its shower of lemon zest, fresh dill, and chives.  And to Ms. You-Guys-Have-Hit-the-Skids, the dish has a solid four-star rating among those who have made it.  And the fifth is likely missing only because of the obscene amounts of butter, cream, and cheddar cheese in the recipe.  If you must, I am sure you can adjust the fat content by using low-fat versions of cream and cutting back on the butter. But I wouldn’t.

THE ORIGINAL TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE ARRIVED ON THE SCENE IN 1939

“Streamlined Cooking, a book written by “Joy of Cooking” author Irma Rombauer introduced the dish.   It wasn’t a big commercial success. But once Ms. Rombauer included her recipe in “The Joy of Cooking” in 1943, it took off. Its popularity continued with the wave of Casserole cooking that took hold in the 1950s.  And why not?  Its ingredients were cheap and easy to find: A can of tuna, a can of vegetables (usually peas), a can of soup, and a package of egg noodles. In 35 minutes, dinner was on the table.  It could be eaten then and there, frozen or refrigerated to be reheated whenever necessary.  It also became very popular to take one to potlucks. There’s even mention of it being a preferred dish to take to the home of someone sick.

ANDY BARAGHANI DID STICK TO THE BASICS; EGG NOODLES AND TUNA.

He also went off the rails to create his 4-star version.  There’s no can of mushroom soup here: You make your own with mushrooms, leeks and onion, heavy cream, and chicken stock. There’s the tartness of White Cheddar cheese and plenty of herbs and spices that lift the flavor of the dish beyond any old Tuna Casserole in memory.  And then there’s the Tuna itself. For this dish, you should spring for the Italian tuna packed in oil. But there is no comparison between it and anything domestic in a can. You can buy great tuna online. (Right now Eataly has it on sale: https://www.eataly.com/us_en/as-do-mar-tuna-fillets-in-olive-oil-in-jar-8-8-oz )  Remember to cook the egg noodles very briefly; you want them to absorb the flavors of the ingredients. Follow this recipe exactly.  I am sure your diners will be just as amazed as Andrew and I were.  It is that good. Here is the recipe. And guess what? Right after it, some other takes on Tuna Casseroles and even a Tuna Pasta Sauce.

Tuna Casserole with Dill and Potato Chips

October 3, 2023
: 8 (I halved the recipe to serve 4)
: Very Easy

An absolutely wonderful take on the Tuna Casserole. Make this once and you'll make it again and again.

By:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 12 ounces dried curly egg noodles
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces mushrooms (such as crimini, shiitake, and/or button mushrooms), chopped
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces white cheddar, grated
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (preferably Tabasco)
  • 2 6-ounce jars oil-packed tuna, drained, broken into small pieces
  • 2 cups potato chips
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup dill, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 13×9″ baking dish with 1 Tbsp. butter. For half the recipe use a baking dish approximately 5 X 8.
  • Step 2 Cook egg noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain pasta
  • Step 3 let cool.
  • Step 4 Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and leek
  • Step 5 cook, stirring, until soft but not brown, 8–10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 4–6 minutes.
  • Step 6 Add wine and reduce until skillet is almost dry, about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Stir in Worcestershire and thyme.
  • Step 7 Melt remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook until roux is golden and looks shiny and smooth about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add cream, cheddar, and hot sauce
  • Step 8 cook, stirring until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Step 9 Gently fold mushroom mixture, cream mixture, noodles, and tuna in a large bowl
  • Step 10 taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Step 11 Transfer the tuna mixture to the prepared baking dish. Press chips into the casserole so they stand upright. Bake casserole until bubbly around the edges and chips begin to brown, 15–20 minutes.
  • Step 12 Zest one-quarter of the lemon over casserole. Let sit 5 minutes, and then top with dill and chives.
  • Step 13


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5 thoughts on “NOT YOUR MOTHER’S TUNA CASSEROLE WITH DILL AND POTATO CHIPS”

  • Comfort food at its best! You can be certain this foodie WILL be cooking this dish and enjoying every bite! Thanks so much for posting it.

    • Hello Jocelyn, Pardon me for not getting back to you sooner. We just came back from Europe on Wednesday and I am backed up. Mushrooms can be replaced with Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Eggplant, Butternut Squash or Tofu. But my personal preference would be jarred Artichoke hearts. Artichoke hearts are the meaty, soft, and creamy center of artichoke veggies. They have a mild, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor. Artichoke hearts work well in this dish. And they’re a great substitute for mushrooms to get a similar texture and flavor in your dishes.

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