Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fresh Poached Ahi Tuna Casserole

I am not a fan of tuna casserole that Grandma used to make. . .sorry Grandma, I love you!I am sure you know the kind? Canned tuna fish, cream of mushroom soup, a little sour cream, a little milk, some frozen peas, and lots of cheese to mask everything or make it taste better. Okay, I kept the pea part. You would never tell Grandma that this wasn't something you liked because she could obtain that LOOK. . .the one where you want to crawl under the dining table but point at Grandpa first and say that it he said it first. Then she would look at Grandpa and asked if he would like to make himself a peanut butter sandwich and she could just feed the casserole to the poor dog. She didn't say the poor part. I'm improvising. Grandpa, of course, would still get to do the dishes. My Grandpa was a saint. He would always look at me and wink when he knew Grandma wasn't looking. I think one of the reasons I got away with it was because he knew I would always make it up to him by baking him one of his favorite goodies the next day. Good thing Grandma was usually an awesome cook! A person could get tired of peanut butter sandwiches, maybe.
I love my tuna casserole because it is made from freshly poached tuna, sauteed mushrooms and shallots, along with a creamy homemade sauce created from heavy cream. You can use half-n-half but I don't use much to make the sauce. Just enough to pull all the ingredients together and serve. BTW, mine does not get baked in the oven.
Freshly Poached Ahi Tuna Casserole
Ingredients:
1/2 loaf day-old crusty bread or 2 crusty day-old rolls
1 1/4 pounds tuna steaks (2 big steaks 1 -inch thick each)
1 c. white wine
water
1 bay leaf
1 t. peppercorns
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 T butter, divided
2 large shallots, chopped
About 16 small button mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 t. ground thyme, or you can use poultry seasoning
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. heavy cream or half-n-half
1 c. baby frozen peas
1 pound extra-wide egg noodles, cooked to al dente or 12 ounces egg fettuccine (1 box)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, to garnish
Directions:
Place bread in warm oven, 250 degrees F, to dry and toast, 20 minutes. Place tuna in a skillet and add wine, then water - just enough to cover fish. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring liquids to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover skillet. Poach fish for 12 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter - reserve remaining 2 Tablespoons butter. Add shallots and mushrooms and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in ground thyme and flour and cook flour 1 minute, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon. Whisk in stock, then cream. Adjust seasonings. Add peas.
Remove cooked, poached tuna to a bowl and flake fish with a fork.Add cooked noodles and tuna to sauce. Remove sauce from heat and transfer mixture to a casserole or serving dish. Use the widest cutting edge on a box grater to grate the bread into large crumbs. Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter in a small cup in microwave and pour melted butter over bread. Scatter buttery bread crumbs and parsley over the top of the casserole. Serve immediately with a nice salad and glass of white wine.

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