Could there be a more reliable, comforting food than tuna casserole? If you were raised on tuna casserole like I was then you are more than likely emphatically saying “nooooo way it’s the best!!” at your computer/tablet/phone right now.
Tuna casserole was the ultimate dinner time staple when I was growing up. I’m talking the classic cream of mushroom soup and canned tuna tuna casserole. Without fail it would make an appearance on the dinner table every single week. My mom worked, my brother and I were way over scheduled with activities, and tuna casserole was an easy, inexpensive meal that could be on the table with little thought, and in little time. Plus in the dinner time war of “I’m not eating that” was a clear victory for my mom as what child is going to say no to something topped with potato chips?! Not us.
To this day tuna casserole remains a favorite of mine. The smell of the casserole baking in the oven transports me to my childhood dinner table and the comforts of home. It is a like a warm hug from your mom. And while I loved the tuna casserole my mom made, I don’t necessarily love the ingredient list. Canned soup does have a place, and even though I love most things kitchy and retro, canned soup is not one of them.
Like most children thinking I can do better I have fussed about creating a ‘canned soup free tuna casserole but still tastes like moms‘ recipe for years with little success. There were some good attempts, but they didn’t give me the food memory hug I was looking for.
What is missing?
I gave it some serious thought over a rather fancy version made with mixed wild mushrooms (delicious just not what I was looking for). And guess what?! Like a light turning on, it hit me. Why I am using panko? Just put potato chips on top. Are there fancy mushrooms in canned soup? Heck no, just plain white mushrooms, little ones were what I needed. And soup – it is made with stock and my sauce was all cream, I needed the stock for flavor.
Well it worked and let me tell you this recipe is a winner! Granted a little more effort than mixing two tins together, but the flavor you will achieve will take this traditional comfort dish to the next level and is totally worth it!! Fresh button white mushrooms, chicken stock, fresh thyme and little bit wine creates a seriously delicious casserole. Top it off with kettle chips that get a little brown and burnt in the oven deliver a crunch that will have you and your entire family smiling.
Hope you enjoy this family favorite! Let me know what classic casseroles were you raised on…
- 4 tbsp tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 ounces dried large egg noodles
- ½ large onion, finely chopped
- 10 ounces button white mushrooms, chopped
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup 10% cream
- 1 cup white cheddar, grated
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco
- 2 6-ounce cans water-packed flaked white tuna, drained
- 2 cups potato chips, divided
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Cook egg noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain pasta; let cool.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and chopped onion; cook, stirring, until very soft but not brown, 10-12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 4–6 minutes. Add wine and thyme, reduce until skillet is almost dry, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Stir in Worcestershire.
- Melt remaining 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook until roux forms, about 2 minutes.
- Whisking constantly, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add cream, cheddar, and hot sauce; cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently fold together mushroom mixture, cream mixture, noodles, and tuna in a large bowl; taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Transfer tuna mixture to prepared 13X9" baking dish. Press chips into casserole so they stand upright. Crush remaining chips and crumble on the top of the casserole.
- Bake casserole until bubbly around the edges and chips begin to brown, 15–20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.