WINNER: The Tuna Noodle Casserole of Gods

Hmmm… how would a winner start this post?  Oh yes: I can make tuna noodle casserole better than you, na-na-na boo-boo.

This is what I would like to refer to as the pre-devour shot, if you will; the close-up of the ooey-gooeyness that one can perhaps revel in (or for those who don’t know what “revel” means, you may roll your face in it, whatever’s easiest).

Yet even in all its deliciousness, it is the simplicity of the preparation and flavors that makes it a great dinner.  The dish nearly makes itself and is exciting for any palette.

And though this dish is simple to make, its ingredients will be highly important.  Having such basic staples within it, I find that the choice of noodle and bread crumb is what gives it a more culinary feel.

To start, you will want to gather your basic canned tuna in water (a 6-8 oz. can), and your favorite can of cream of mushroom soup, (the standard 10.75 oz.). You will also need 1/4 cup of cubed butter, 4 or 5 slices of American Cheese, and a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

And finally, the most important ingredients; the egg noodles and bread crumbs.  In a dish like this, the noodle choice is really important.  You will most certainly want to use a traditional german egg noodle, (about 8 oz.)- I prefer Bechtle brand, and 1/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs.  Avoid the urge to use elbow-macaroni in this dish- the egg noodles lend a lightness to it as well as a great ability to cling to the cheese with its many cork-screw curves.  They basically hold their shape far better than most noodles and if (god forbid), it is eaten without cheese or mushroom soup, it will still be a fantastic bite, even on its worst day.

Plain bread crumbs simply won’t do.  This dish’s more subtle ingredients can make it quite boring so the italian bread crumbs give it a great kick.

To prepare, you will want to preheat the oven to 350°.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook your noodles for 9 minutes– this will leave them delightfully al dente.

Pour the drained noodles in a casserole dish, approximately 9″ x 13″.   Evenly spread the butter cubes, tuna, and mushroom soup throughout the noodles.  Gently stir.  Note: refuse your desire to coat every noodle with soup.  With the right noodle, the occasional bite with only butter and breadcrumbs serves as a fantastic contrast.  Resist the urge to relentlessly stir- stirring neuroses has not yet been diagnosed and the condition has no pill.

Once ingredients are spread to your content, place the american cheese slices and shredded cheddar on top, then sprinkle the italian bread crumbs.  Bake for 13 minutes.  What you will have is a meal that needs no sides and will leave you delightfully full.  It’s ease alone should make it the winner (and I’m pretty sure that I secured a jewelry gift from my new husband for my next birthday).

This recipe is a slight variation from what I found on allrecipes.com, with the addition of shredded cheddar.  My most noticeable differences are in the attention to ingredients and a differing technique suggestion, (they layer, I went for the elegant dump-and-serve method).  Here is a photo of it served.  We preferred bowls with trough-like features as we enjoy the fork-or-no-fork option when necessary.

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