The Whole Dish Blog: Tetrazzini Embrace Leftover Ham – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


My kids, like most, are macaroni and cheese purists.

But sometimes they have to suffer from extraneous ingredients that need to be used or that will increase the health profile of their carbohydrate and fat intake.

Steamed cauliflower with shells and cheddar topped with panko. Leeks and tuna with bow ties under a crust of fried onions. They always manage to whet the appetite for mom’s mac and cheese compromises.

I imagine a slightly warmer reception for leftover ham and peas, one of my favorite vegetables that I can always rely on to eat without complaint. And mushrooms — easy for my eldest son to eat — make up the trifecta with salted pork and frozen peas in my head for quick preparations for pasta of all shapes.

According to the story, Tetrazzini is named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini and was made famous in the 1920s by chef Louis Paquet. It’s traditionally made with chicken or seafood. But any protein works, agrees Tribune News Service food writer Gretchen McKay, who also suggests spinach, broccoli florets or asparagus, even leftover Sunday party.

Tribune News Photo service

Leftover Tetrazzini Ham

1 pound of spaghetti

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

8 ounces button mushrooms, any tough or dry stems discarded, sliced

Salt, as needed

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups of chicken broth

8 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 cups leftover chopped ham

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1 cup grated Gouda cheese

Black pepper, as needed

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 F (regular) or 375 F (convection). Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package says. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown deeply, 8 to 11 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the flour. Mix well, until flour and mushrooms are evenly combined and flour is evenly moistened, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Let the wine bubble to reduce slightly, for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and let boil. Cook until thickened noticeably, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to low. Whisk in the cream cheese pieces (don’t worry if the cream cheese looks curdled), then stir in the ham, peas and cheeses. Season generously with black pepper. Add drained pasta and toss with tongs to combine. Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove and mix with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs on top of pasta and bake in preheated oven until bubbly and golden on top, about 25 minutes.

Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving. It will be very creamy at first but will firm up as it cools. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese for sprinkling.

Makes 8 servings.

— Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from

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