Monday, November 28, 2011

Post Turkey Day Meals: Tetrazzini

My late mother-in-law was always amused to hear that  my mother cooks huge turkeys for the holidays. After all, at Nanay's house at Christmas there were usually 14-18 of us, and a 14-16 pound turkey did nicely. While up in the Bronx at my mother's there's never been more than 6 of us eating turkey, and even when my brother-in-law and family did show up, they're vegetarians!

But still, every Thanksgiving my mother makes an 18 pound turkey and a fair amount of it gets sent down home with us. She keeps the rest and she and my father eat it all pretty much the same way--either cold in sandwiches or warmed up along with the other leftovers, and doesn't get why I don't do the same.

Thing is, my mom was never one to remake leftovers into new forms, aside from ground lamb into shepherd's pie, perhaps. Where as I routinely make a roast chicken or cook a turkey breast planning on making the leftovers into one or two completely different meals.

Tetrazzini has been a staple meal in my house for years. It's really a glorified mac and cheese with chicken/turkey and some vegetables tossed in and the girls love it. And it's one of the meals SC has learned to make on her own.

My recipe originally came from the Desperation Dinner ladies. They used fresh chicken and cooked it, I use already cooked, cut up chicken or turkey.  They used fresh mushrooms and cream of chicken soup, I just use cream of mushroom soup.

Bit by bit I've made it even easier than they did, so that now I pretty much toss everything but the pasta into a big bowl, microwave it to heat it, toss it with the pasta in a big pot and add the cheese to melt it. It's that simple.

You can vary this millions of ways. SC doesn't like it when I add carrots, JR does. You can add additional flavorings--Worcestershire sauce is part of the original recipe. You can make your own white sauce and toss in fresh mushrooms--this is one of the few recipes where I do use canned soup!

It's fast, it's easy and it's kid friendly.
And it's taking care of some of that leftover turkey.....

Turkey/Chicken Tetrazzini

1-2 cups cooked chopped turkey or chicken

1 box pasta (we like to use rotini or shells in this)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (low sodium preferred)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 tsp minced garlic (bottled is fine)

1 chopped onion or about 1 cup frozen chopped onion
1 cup frozen green peas (thaw in cold water for a few minutes)
1 cup diced carrots (optional.If wanted you can use a green pea/carrot frozen mix)

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar--mild or sharp

Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot and drain.

Combine soup, parmesan, milk and garlic in a large bowl.
Mix well, then stir in the turkey/chicken and the vegetables.
Heat in the microwave for 3-5 minutes until everything is heated through.
Note:You can also do this on the stove in a deep skillet or dutch oven.

Add the contents of the bowl to the pasta pot and mix well.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top, cover and heat on the stove until the cheese melts, then stir the cheese in and serve.

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