Thursday, November 24, 2011

Haven't We Met Before?

Song Pairing:
Here You Come Again by Dolly Parton
I needed a song about do-overs since today's post is about using up some of that leftover turkey.  I particularly like the phrase in the song, "looking better than a body has a right to" in conjunction with this recipe.  What's not to love about bubbly cheese and toasted bread crumbs over noodles dressed in the most heavenly sauce you've ever tasted?  The flavor of this dish will be "fill in' up your senses" and make you swoon.  I'm talkin' Bradley-Cooper-swoon!  I'm talking' Bradley-Cooper-speaking-fluent-french swoon!!!  As a matter of fact, after my daughter and I made this and we did the final taste of the sauce I declared that I would be happy to serve this on Thanksgiving Day and never mind with the big roasted bird!  Believe me when I say that you will not mind opening up the refrigerator and seeing turkey . . . again.

A popular thing for people to do this time of year is list their absolute favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast.  You hear about the wonderful sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows that Aunt Mabel brings or a particular type of pie from Grandma.  Or maybe it's your mother's hot, buttery rolls.  

The most heated debate is usually about the stuffing.  I've come to believe that, if you've had a stuffing made well, you love it.  If you've been subjected to years and years of slimy mush or cardboard dry stuffing, you hate it.  Plain and simple.  There's usually no ambivalence on the subject.  For most of my life stuffing was my favorite part of the meal.  I'd get looks of shock when I'd announce this.  But most people never had my father's stuffing.  I tried and tried to reproduce it, with phone calls to him every year to figure out just what it was I was missing.  Mine was good, it just wasn't amazing.  I truly believe in a culinary "touch" that certain people have and Dad had this in abundance.  Sadly, he passed away 16 years ago so there's no way of ever reaching the goal of his stuffing perfection.  I'll just have to settle for really good stuffing.  And pie has stepped up to be my favorite part of the feast!

Surprisingly, amid the heated discussions as to which part of the meal is the best, it is the main attraction - the turkey - that abounds with indifference.  It's the star of the show, right there in the middle of the table, all golden brown and, hopefully, succulent!  The carving of it is supposed to be an honor.  People might haggle a bit about light meat vs. dark meat, but, if you want to get people's hearts racing you'll want to bring up the side dishes!

I'd like to help out Mr. Tom Turkey and bring him the respect he deserves.  It may be the next day but, after you taste this, you'll be happy to give him the traditional start the first time around, knowing that you have this delectable dish waiting for you later in the week!  This recipe gives turkey such a great do-over!  You'll open the fridge and as your eyes rest on that platter of leftover bird you'll "smile that little smile" as you say, "Here you come again!"

My daughter makes this recipe often when she entertains, using ground turkey in place of the cubed leftover turkey.  I was happy that she was home for the holiday and agreed to help me with today's post.

It begins with chopping onions.

I left the room and returned to find her "in" the freezer.

She claims this helps when the onions make her "cry."  Oh well - to each his own!

Here's the recipe!

Turkey Noodle Casserole
adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe
printable recipe

1/2 pound extra wide noodles
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
1 lb sliced white mushrooms
1/2 onion, chopped
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 t. poultry seasoning
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. nutmeg
3 c. grated cheese, we used a combination of cheddar and italian cheeses
1 c. bread crumbs

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, add a small handful of kosher salt to season the water and add the pasta.  Cook about 2 minutes less than package calls for as you will be cooking the noodles further in the baking process.  Strain.

Either coat a 9x13 casserole dish or individual serving dishes with spray.

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and then add the bacon.  Cook bacon for 3 minutes, until it starts to brown.

Add the mushrooms and onions and cook for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme leaves and poultry seasoning and stir.  Cook another 5 minutes.

There will be lots of lovely bits on the bottom of the pan.  This is called a "fond" and this is where the best part of your flavor is living.  To bring this flavor into your dish you need to deglaze the pan.  Do this by pouring in the wine and using your wooden spoon to scrape up those bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken stock and stir.

When the liquid is bubbly, stir in the cream and reduce the heat to low.  Add the nutmeg and taste and adjust your seasonings.  (Heads up - this is where you will swoon!  You won't believe the flavor!)

Heat the broiler.

Add the cooked noodles and turkey to the sauce and stir to coat well.  Fill the casserole dish or the individual serving dishes with the mixture.  Sprinkle liberally with the cheese and then the bread crumbs.

Place under the broiler and watch carefully.  They're done when it's a lovely golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

A great idea for this dish is to use individual serving dishes that can go from freezer to oven or microwave. Prepare a big batch and wrap each dish well with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.  When you are ready to use them, heat oven to 350 degrees, unwrap the plastic, and bake for 30 minutes.  You can turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to get that lovely crust.  If using from a frozen state you'll need to put it in the refrigerator to thaw.  Simply take it from the freezer to the fridge in the morning and it should be ready to bake by dinner time.


  1. My favorite part is the dressing, too. But only if it's a good one. I have a fantastic recipe that I adore.

  2. I'd like to get that recipe, Lisa, if I could?!

  3. this is on our "meal plan" for this month. Can't wait! About how much time does it take to prepare (so I can know about when to start)? Many thanks for your wonderful recipes and stories

  4. Sorry, Elizabeth. I didn't see I had a comment! Must check on that! Anyway, it takes about 30 minutes to pull this together. Hope you enjoy(ed) this tasty dish!