Here are a few culinary givens in my house during the holidays:
1. The piles of cookies, candy and fudge that I fantasize for weeks about baking and placing in decorative homemade bags finished with some scalloped edges will all come together in a far more modest form, popped into sloppily-put-together plain white boxes because in fact I have no skill for making pretty containers. None at all.
2. Someone will request potatoes and I will once again attempt a recipe that takes 20 minutes longer than I have time for and requires slices a little thinner than I made and at some point mid-dish I will realize once again that I never had the skill for layered potato dishes and I will either start weeping or order a pizza.
3. I will have lots of leftover turkey.
Although we were a mere nine people on Thanksgiving -- five of them children -- my husband requested that I make no less than 17 pounds of poultry, because among his most favored dishes in the world is a cold turkey sandwich on white bread with some mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
But obviously I had far more bird left than needed for those sack lunches, and so for my leftovers party the day after Thanksgiving (really fun, I especially liked the half-eaten pecan pie, and the single turkey breast rolled with spinach) I decided to try Turkey Tetrazzini.
Some old school dishes get left in the archives for a reason, but I surely do support any tetrazzini resurrections, and particularly QueenOfGreen's version, which she proclaims is her favorite post-holiday dish.
Let’s begin with noodle flexibility, because you have it here. I went for egg noodles. While those are cooking up, you do your shallots and then shroomies in some butter and olive oil. Oh my, your kitchen smells good. Maybe you should turn up the music.
I used sherry to scrape up my bits, as I do not own vermouth. I might remedy that at some point.
Next you do your flour thing, with the cream, and please be careful to keep stirring. I think I was out of nutmeg and did the slightest tiny dash of mace. I said it was tiny so don’t focus on that okay?
The tomatoes here are key, and what differentiate this dish from others I have had. I bought some cherry versions that came from, well, I want to say Florida, which is the best I could do this time of year. I think canned would work okay. I used turkey broth from my carcass but chicken would work fine.
Don’t you love layering casseroles? It feels so I-am-about-to-go-to-a-potluck-with-lots-of-wholesome-conversation-but-someone-also-might-get-drunk-and-fall-into-a-wall, doesn’t it?
Oh, use panko. Delicious.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
8-10 cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup light cream
3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 small plum tomatoes
2 cups pre-cooked turkey, cubed
2 teaspoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
Cook pasta 'al dente' according to package directions. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In the meantime, heat butter and olive oil in a deep skillet. When melted, add shallots, then mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are brown.
Add vermouth to pan, scraping all the little bits together.
Sprinkle flour into the pan while whisking constantly. When flour has browned slightly, slowly pour cream into the pan in a steady stream while continuing to whisk constantly. Add the broth, still whisking, to thin the sauce.
Add nutmeg, and season with salt.
Add chopped tomatoes, and cook until slightly softened.
Toss half of sauce with drained pasta to coat. Arrange pasta in a casserole dish. Layer the turkey over the pasta, and pour the remaining sauce over all.
Combine the melted butter with Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over the turkey.
Bake just briefly until heated through and topping is browned. About 10 minutes.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
Photo by Nicole Franzen