Tuna Casserole Recipe From Monty's Blue Plate Dinner Cookbook
You may wriggle your nose at it, but none-the-less, tuna casserole is classic American food. When I attended an international dinner and had to bring a dish representative of midwestern America, I chose tuna casserole over red jello with marshmallows. Sure, my selections date me; Midwestern cooking has gone gourmet now. But let's not forget our humble, and admittedly delicious, roots.
When did the tuna casserole rise to its elevated position in midwestern-America's culinary heritage? I think it happened decades of winters ago when our midwestern lakes were frozen, but folks wanted to eat fish on Fridays. The can of tuna was ready in the cupboard and very cheap. Families could afford tuna casserole, at least ours could. And so in the days before fresh, coastal fish flew about the U.S., our mothers turned to tuna for religious reasons. But our mothers had an even more compelling reason: kids generally like tuna casserole. Tuna casserole is mildly-flavored and usually has noodles in it, - two, kid-friendly criteria.
The recipe for tuna casserole that I grew up on was baked as most casseroles are. So I was surprised to read that the The Blue Plate Diner Cookbook's recipe for tuna casserole is prepared on the stove-top. Monty's Blue Plate Diner is a highly-popular restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. It's appeal is its menu: 20th-century, classic American food. At Monty's you can get meatloaf, mac 'n cheese, and a chef salad. It's decor is in the style of a 1950's diner. But despite it's retro-appearance, Monty's is subversively trying to update classic-midwestern fare. Their cookbook contains ethnic-inspired recipes such as Thai noodles, Moroccan chicken,and prosciutto peas and parmesan pasta. I haven't dare try these yet, but I did stray over to their Aztec chicken recipe, which my family REALLY liked. Anyway, back to tuna casserole.
Last night I made The Blue Plate Diner's recipe for tuna casserole. Because it was different, my children were initially skeptical, but after the first bite they showed such happy enthusiasm, that I felt a little sad for my mother's tuna casserole recipe. I realized it would be a long time before I made her recipe again. This classic American favorite food had been updated, sigh. But all kitchen's need up-dating once in a while. So if yours does, here's the Blue Plate Diner's recipe for tuna casserole.
For me, this recipe for tuna casserole took a leisurely 1/2 hour to prepare.No, making the roux didn't intimidate me. Sure, it's easier to dump in a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup as in my mother's recipe. But the flavor of the roux made with real butter mixed with sour cream has obviously greater appeal. I did alter the recipe a smidgen. I added vegetable bouillon to the water, and I used frozen, mixed vegetables rather than peas. I've found you can also substitute a can of clams for the tuna and the kids don't fuss. If potato chips aren't on hand, crushed gold fish (the Pepperidge Farm variety) work well instead. Enjoy.
You can find The Blue Plate Diner Cookbook at http://www.wisconsinmade.com