Tuna Noodle Casserole

This famous dish probably does not need another recipe, but mine is slightly different from the usual one. There was a deal at the supermarket last week, and tuna was cheap. I only use what is called "solid pack" tuna, preferably in oil. Consumer Reports pointed out that tuna requires a certain amount of oil to can well, so the oiler fish is canned in water, the leaner fish in oil, and it all averages out. Of course, drain the oil thoroughly. I also like the darker tuna that is available in Europe, but the white "Albacore" popular in the U.S. is also very good. With all this tuna on hand, I searched about for ways to prepare it for consumption. Basically, tuna is a pretty inedible fish, but the "chicken of the sea" has certain attractions. I could think of only three ways: salad, with rice, and as noodle casserole. Tuna with rice was just edible, possibly satisfactory for prisoners, but I did not find it attractive. Salad I know is good, but I wanted a hot dinner dish. The casserole turned out to be excellent, and seems to be the best way to use tuna for a dinner.

Put two quarts of water on to boil, adding a tablespoon of oil and some salt. When it's boiling, add a cup and and a half of wide noodles and boil gently about 7 minutes (in Denver). Make a little more than a cup of white sauce, using a tablespoon each of butter and flour, and a cup of milk. Make a roux first, until it is nice and bubbly. If you use too much butter, add more flour. If the roux is dry and does not bubble, add more butter. Heat to boiling, and boil gently for two minutes to allow it to cook. Then stir in about a half-cup of good grated aged Cheddar cheese, as they make in Ireland. Open a 6-ounce can of tuna, and a small can of mushroom stems and pieces, drain both, and put in a large bowl. Add the cheese sauce, and then the drained noodles when they are done. The noodles will have time to cook a little more while baking. Put in a casserole dish, and cover with a goodly layer of bread crumbs (stale baguettes and a food processor make good bread crumbs). Sprinkle on a goodly amount of grated Parmesan cheese, and dot with little pats of butter. Now put in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top has browned a little and the contents are bubbling. The casserole is ready to serve. It is much better than we have any right to expect.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 22 October 2002
Last revised