Top | Main Dishes
(recipe, Caroline Cummins)
This classic casserole dish is great for Thanksgiving leftovers, of course, but it's also perfect for the leftovers from a roasted or braised chicken. Adapted in part from Elise Bauer's delicious version, this dish is essentially chicken pot pie baked with noodles instead of a crust.
No poultry? Replace the cooked meat with an equivalent amount of flaked canned tuna (about four 5-ounce cans) for tuna-noodle casserole. Got other veggie leftovers in the fridge, such as roasted red peppers, or other frozen vegetables, such as broccoli? Use them instead. This is a clean-out-the-fridge kind of dish.
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 12 oz. dried pasta (egg noodles for preference, but any kind is fine)
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 large celery stick, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 oz. (about 4 to 5 cups) mushrooms, sliced (see Note)
- 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
- 4 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken
- ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (a blend of milk with cream and/or half and half is fine)
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup dry white wine, sherry, marsala, or vermouth
- ½ cup shredded Swiss, Monterey Jack, white Cheddar, or Fontina cheese (optional)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided in half
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, divided in half
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes.
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. When the pasta is ready, drain it into a colander and run cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking.
- Prep the vegetables: While the pasta is cooking, melt a tablespoon of the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring, until golden and translucent. In another sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and glossy. Put all of the cooked vegetables into a large bowl and add the defrosted peas and the chopped cooked poultry.
- Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining ½ stick butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring, then whisk in the milk, stock, and alcohol. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. If using the optional cheese, stir it in just until melted. Add ½ cup of the Parmesan and the thyme and nutmeg.
- Assemble the casseroles: Add the noodles to the bowl of vegetables and meat, and pour the warm sauce over it. Mix everything together carefully, then add salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the dressed noodles into the two prepared dishes. Scatter the breadcrumbs across the tops of the casseroles (use ½ cup for each baking dish) and scatter the remaining ½ cup grated Parmesan over the breadcrumbs.
- Bake the casseroles: Bake the two dishes in the oven, rotating halfway through, for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are browned on top. Serve immediately.
Crimini mushrooms (aka baby portabella mushrooms) are available year-round and are fine for this dish, but if you can get fresh chanterelles or other local mushrooms in the fall where you live, use them instead.