Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Tetrazzini with Spinach

can there be Thanksgiving every month ??

I love Thanksgiving leftovers. So many things you can make out of one meal...the hard part (for me anyway) is choosing which ones to make. Just plain turkey with Hellman's is heavenly, but Turkey Terrifics are even better...we call them "Turkey Terrifics" because there's a little deli near here that used to make them all the time and that's what they called them. Good bread for a base (a nice potato bread is perfect) for a base...then Hellman's (yeah, I'm picky about mayo...people around here tell me Miracle Whip is good too, but I don't talk to those people ;) )...turkey, stuffing (slightly warmed), and cranberry sauce. I love post-Thanksgiving omelets, too...turkey and leftover spinach are the basics, but other party guests are welcome too. When I lived at home I always threw in some Alouette Cheese, because my mom always had it around. Good stuff.

Eventually, though, you have to get back to cooking real dinners - and if you're like me, you still have a ton of leftovers, because you are crazy and like to cook at least twice as much as you need. Turkey Tetrazzini is a very popular home for Thanksgiving leftovers, and there are probably as many versions as there are cooks. The dish supposedly was named after the Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini and created about 1910 by Ernest Arbogast, then chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California. Generations of cooks faced with way too much turkey have been grateful ever since. The basics of the dish are turkey and mushrooms mixed with a cream sauce, pasta, and Parmesan cheese, then topped with breadcrumbs and baked. Sherry and peas are common additions, but as I'm not a huge sherry and cream sauce fan (owing to an unfortunate Newberg incident in my youth) I use white wine. And since I tend to have Spinach Provencal left over...and since it already involves Parmesan cheese....and spinach and cream sauce are such good friends...I just use some of that instead. And OMG, is this stuff the bomb...absolutely fantastic.  I have included directions for making it with baby spinach instead, which I promise will come out just as good...guaranteed culinary orgasm !

oh, yeah....

Turkey Tetrazzini with Spinach

1 pound cellentani / cavatappi or similar pasta
1 pound sliced mushrooms
2 T dry white wine
1/2 C plus 2 T unsalted butter
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 C milk
1 C cream
2 C chicken broth
4 C coarsely chopped cooked turkey
1 1/2 C leftover Spinach Provencal (or see Note at end)  
1 C freshly grated Parmesan, divided
1/3 C shredded Swiss cheese
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 C panko (breadcrumbs)

Preheat oven to 375°F, and start the water for the pasta

Cook the mushrooms in 2 T of the butter and the wine over medium heat, stirring, until all of the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated, 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 1/4 C of butter. Stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente.

Into the saucepan with the butter and flour, slowly whisk in the milk, cream, and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 to 8 minutes.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and return it to the pot. Mix in the cream sauce, the mushrooms, the turkey, and the spinach. Stir in half the Parmesan and the Swiss cheese. Add salt and pepper , and a pinch of nutmeg to taste. Transfer the mixture to a large buttered casserole.

Melt the remaining butter, and stir in the bread crumbs and the remaining Parmesan. Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.

Note : if you don’t happen to have Spinach Provencal made, this works just as well using an equal amount of baby spinach. If you go this route, chop a shallot and sauté it with your mushrooms, then stir the spinach into the mushrooms when they are just about done . Throw in another handful of Parmesan, too, when you're mixing everything together.

yes, this makes a lot - easily halved


  1. My grandmother made turkey tetrazzini that was to die for, but never with spinach. I love the twist! xoxo