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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chicken Tetrazzini and Pecan Tart

Actually, I mean Turkey Tetrazzini. Yes, like most of you, I was trying to figure out what the heck to do with all that leftover turkey, aside from the obligatory soup and sandwiches.

The first time I had turkey tetrazzini was at Yanks, when the sous chef was trying to figure out the same thing. We used to have staff meals (so civilized!) and he baked a gigantic hotel pan of the stuff, which is basically a noodle casserole held together with a cheesy white sauce, with turkey (or chicken), and veg of your choice thrown in. He used peas, as I recall. Ah, comfort food!

I knew Dr. and Mrs. S. would go for the idea if I put it like this: "a casserole with some pasta and a sherry cream sauce with mushrooms". They love anything that involves sherry, so it was a green light.

When you look at the recipe on Epicurious you'll see that there's a lot of stock making etc.--you can do all that but if you are dealing with leftovers you really just need the poultry meat and stock from some source. If you can make it, fine, if not nobody will notice if you use canned. All you need it for is the cream sauce and there's a lot of other stuff going on there.

The thing that was the most fun about this dish was the way they have you assemble it. You're supposed to toss half the sauce with the pasta, and put it in a casserole dish. Then make a well in the pasta, and put the rest of your sauce + the poultry in the middle. Sprinkle the whole thing with parm reg and bake in the oven until golden. I don't know why that tickles me so much, but it does--kind of like making Toad in the Hole for breakfast.

Dr. S. really loved this dish but Mrs. S. picked out the turkey and the mushrooms and left the pasta behind. I enjoyed it very much, partly because it was unexpectedly peppery--the recipe calls for 1 tsp. of pepper which really livens it up.

Note: Epicurious provides three recipes for tretrazzini--the one I gave you the link to above is the closest to what is in the book. But there are some differences--no truffle butter, a lot more pepper, more parm, and slightly more sherry.

Here is a nice picture taken by Romulo Yanes. Mine definitely looked more "baked", but this will give you an idea.


I have come to the conclusion that I have to get a tape measure for the kitchen at work. I am just really lousy at estimating length and width. And who can remember how wide things are? I ordered a bunch of tart pans and when I bake I always just use the biggest one.

Why am I kvetching about this? It will come clear in a moment.

The Pecan Tart recipe is a winner, because it eliminates the thing I dislike about pecan pies--namely, the gooey, overly sweet filling the pecans are suspended in. So the tart recipe basically flattens it out, and you get crispness everywhere--in the tart shell, in the toasted crunchy pecans, and it's all bound just ever so slightly by caramelized filling.

Here's where my measurement problems come into play--the recipe calls for a 10-inch tart pan, so I pull out my biggest one. Which only holds half the filling. Hmmm, I'm thinking to myself, this must not be quite ten inches, and I remember that my springform pan is. Which is much bigger. And if I had been really thinking I would have made the tart in the springform pan instead.

So we have a lovely tart at work and I had to throw half the filling away (actually I drank some of it with some pecans thrown in, can you believe it? I do the same thing with pumpkin pie filling.) All I can say is it's probably a good thing I'm not a carpenter or a seamstress.

Oh, and here is yet another recipe that calls for caramel making. If there is a food theme that runs through this book, it's freshly made caramel, and every recipe seems to approach it from a different angle. This one is the dry-stirring technique, which I've had trouble with before, but this time I was smart and let some of the sugar melt before I got involved stirring it all around, which makes big, messy clumps that stick to your fork.

Here's a photo of somebody else's pecan tart, but it looks pretty close. Mine might have been even a little thinner. Doesn't it look tasty?

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