I grew up on casseroles, long before if was en vogue, my mother was a working mother. Her busy public relations career kept her away from the home during the day, wanting to relax in the evening and not have to rush around frantically to get dinner on the table she'd prepare many dishes ahead of time. The casserole was the perfect dish. There were many varieties of the casserole - usually they involved a protein, a carbohydrate such as pasta or potato and sometimes a veggie. From Shepherd's Pie, to Chicken Tetrazzini to Tuna Noodle. Mostly they involved a can of condensed soup. They were easy, for the most part fairly healthy and they were delicious. And they tend to yield leftovers.
The casserole is enjoying a newfound popularity in my own home. I most recently made a chicken tetrazzini sans Cream of Mushroom soup which is loaded with chemicals and sodium. Chicken stock (I used an organic boxed variety) and some flour as thickener combined with a few herbs, makes an even better and certainly healthier substitute. I love this made with fat egg noodles, but any pasta can be substituted. Most recipes call for some peas but I can't stand overcooked peas, and I make and serve peas on the side If you want to save a step and don't have cooked chicken on hand, rotisserie chicken works perfectly here.I do not make mine ahead of time and freeze them. I like to make them early in the week and then serve the leftovers (in a new dish) at the end of the week so that the children don't feel like they're having leftovers. Though I must ask - what's wrong with leftovers? I love them! It's a damp and chilly day... Perfect weather for a warm and comforting casserole.
- 2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, (about 3 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 1/4 cups chopped mushrooms
- 3/4 pound cooked chicken (or turkey), cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 3 3/4 cups chicken stock
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (We ran out and used dried tarragon which tasted great)
- Ground pepper
- 12 ounces curly egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, toss 1 tablespoon butter with onion, mushrooms, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover; cook 3 minutes. Remove lid; cook, stirring, 3 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl; add turkey or chicken. Set aside. In same pan, whisk stock, remaining butter, and flour. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Whisk until thick, 4 to 5 minutes. (It took us a bit longer to thicken) Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice, thyme or tarragon, and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Combine sauce, chicken or turkey, and noodles in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; top with breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and bubbling, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.