My mother came from a long line of New England women who cooked from scratch, but with four kids in the early 1950s, she quickly embraced canned cream of mushroom soup as the all-purpose binding sauce for casseroles, which were the backbone of her meal planning. Tuna noodle was the hands-down family favorite, which was a boon to my mother because she could make everyone happy with the contents of two cans (tuna and soup) and a partial box of egg noodles. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I make it for my own family. I have to admit I now prepare it with my own sauce, embellishing it with extra mushrooms and a little Sherry for flavor.
Active time: 1 hr Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
- 1medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 1/2tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
- 2teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/4cup sherry
- 1/4cup all-purpose flour
- 2cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1cup whole milk
- 2teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4teaspoon salt
- 1(6-oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
- 6oz dried curly egg noodles (preferably pennsylvania dutch style; about 3 1/4 cups)
- 1 1/2cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
- 4oz coarsely grated cheddar (1 cup)
- 1tablespoon vegetable oil
DIRECTIONS Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.
Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.