Hey, how about a dang recipe? Wheee doggies, this one is a WINNER. If I weren't married and trying to make Jeff believe that I am a lady and not a complete sow, I would be polishing off the entire rest of this casserole right now and not just writing about it.
Be that as it may, freaking yum. I got the recipe from Bon Appetit's "One Dish Wonders" article from their March issue (yay IT'S FINALLY NOT FEBRUARY ANYMORE). And this is not your usual boil-up-some-noodles-add-a-can-of-soup-and-some-tuna thing. This is luxury tuna casserole--the best I've ever had by far, and Jeff loved it, too. It takes some effort and some quality ingredients, but it's not that hard. Come on, look at those potato chips on top: how can you say no to this?
- 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 1/2 C thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only, from about 2 large) <-- Heh! "2 large." Gangster talk! I sliced them as thinly as I possibly could, and then I rinsed and drained them thoroughly to get rid of sand, which Ina Garten a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa is always warning us about.
- 1/4 t celery seeds
- coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 C flour
- 2 C whole milk
- 1/2 C half and half
- 1 t fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz wide egg noodles <-- We had some of these Amish noodles similar to these; I used half a bag.
- 1/2 C coarsely grated Gruyere cheese (about 2.5 oz) <-- Not available at my store, so I bought some Fontina. It was too sticky to grate, so I cut it into very small chunks. Look at me being a renegade and playing fast and loose with this recipe!
- 2 T chopped fresh dill <-- Do not skip; this really made the dish great.
- 2 (5 or 6 oz) cans albacore tuna (preferably packed in olive oil), drained, broken into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 C coarsely crushed salted potato chips (about 2 oz) <-- I bought some of these, and let me tell you: *the vinegar makes it good.*
Butter an 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. This is not one of those big 9x13 casseroles that feeds an army. Melt unsalted butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds to saucepan; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Mine did not take that long because I was a maniac while slicing. I was like Pauly slicing garlic in Goodfellas.
Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half and half; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season leek sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Make sure you do that--it's surprisingly sweet as is. Remove sauce from heat.
Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles, reserving 3/4 cup noodle cooking liquid. Transfer noodles to large bowl. Pour leek sauce over noodles. Add grated Gruyere cheese and dill and stir to blend; add reserved noodle cooking liquid by tablespoons until mixture is moist and creamy (about 8 tablespoons). I used maybe half a cup. Fold in tuna. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
*Can be made 1 day ahead: cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover with foil and keep refrigerated.*
Preheat oven to 375. Bake noodle casserole, covered with foil, until heated through, about 20 minutes if freshly made or 30 minutes if chilled. Remove foil. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over and continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.