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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Tuna Casserole, the Eighth Dish at the Berzatto Feast of the Seven Fishes #TheBear

This is part of my series of recipes inspired by watching The Bear. You can read my first post in the series: Smoky Chocolate Braised Short Ribs Over Sweet and Zesty Risotto + An Appropriately Named Wine.



'What the f- is that?!?" demanded all the Berzattos when Pete walked through the door with a tuna casserole to family Christmas.


Now we never actually see Pete's offering. Natalie rips it from his hands and chucks it out the door. But he says it's tuna casserole and he couldn't come empty handed. He isn't trying to be a jerk, but, as Carmy rightly says, "This would make eight fishes." And they can't have eight fishes at Donna's Feast of the Seven Fishes.


They have a discussion about why they serve seven fishes though there is no definitive answer. I serve twelve fishes for Christmas Eve. You can read about that in my post The Feast of Twelve Fishes: La Vigilia di Natale v.2023.


So, I just had to make a tuna casserole for two reasons: The Bear and my college roommate Cyn.


When I was a junior in college, I shared a house with three other girls. We each were assigned one night of the week to cook dinner; I was assigned two nights (I guess I loved to cook even then!); and we were on our own for weekends. And as I was the only one with a car, we all piled into my tiny Volkswagen on Sunday afternoons and drove to the grocery store for the week. I actually found a binder of my recipes from way back then.


One of the girls only had one recipe in her cooking repertoire. One. We tried to get her to branch out. But, no, she had mastered that one dish and was going to make it every evening that was her assigned dinner. Each week, she bought: two cans of tuna, one can of cream of mushroom soup, one bag of Lay's potato chips, and a bag of pasta.


Never in my life did I imagine that I would willingly eat Cyn's Tuna Noodle Casserole ever again. But, for this, I just had to do it. But here's the college throwback...with homemade mushroom sauce; I just couldn't bring myself to buy the can of cream of mushroom soup when I looked at the sodium content. Oh, my goodness.


Ingredients


  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (I used brown crimini and shiitake)

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • freshly ground salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme

  • 2 cans tuna (prefer wild, line-caught)

  • 1 package pasta, whatever shape (I used cavatappi)

  • 2 cups crushed potato chips (I used Kettle salt & pepper chips)

  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided


Procedure


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit Butter a baking dish; I used a 9" x 9" ceramic pan.


Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in olive oil. Add onions and cook until softened and turning translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.


Pour in white wine and bring to a boil. Cook until liquid evaporates. Add in remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter and let melt. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until a roux forms. Pour in the chicken broth, whisking until the roux is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Pour in the milk and cook until a thick sauce forms.


Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the fresh thyme and chunks of tuna. Set aside.


Cook the noodles according to the package directions and drain. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the noodles, sauce, and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan. Turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish and press the top flat.



Toss the crushed chips and remaining cheese together and sprinkle evenly over the noodles. Bake until the top is crisp and the sauce is bubbling, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.



Serve hot with a green salad on the side.


Stay tuned for more recipes inspired by The Bear.

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