Tetrazzini recipe born from leftover pork

How did your vacation go? Mine, like many others, was hijacked by an Omicron wave.

The (reinforced) son I was supposed to spend Christmas with unexpectedly tested positive, bringing an abrupt end to our planned family feast—and leaving me and my husband with a very expensive 9lb smoked ham from Parma Sausage on Pittsburgh’s Strip to distract.

COVID-19 has taught us, if anything, how to base itself. In the days that followed, we ate ham sandwiches and house-made sweet pickles, and I also folded chunks of bacon into delicious Kochi Lorraine. I also whipped up this rich and creamy pork tetrazzini before tucking a few in the freezer.

Believed to be named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini, and made famous by chef Louis Paquet in the 1920s, a pasta dish traditionally made with chicken or seafood. But honestly, any protein works, including pork.

The original New York Times recipe calls for fontina cheese and panko topping, but I used what I had—grated goodness and fresh breadcrumbs toasted in butter. If you don’t like peas, consider asparagus, spinach, or broccoli for a bright green touch.

To save Ham Tetrazzini

1 pound spaghetti

5 t. Unsalted butter, divided

8 oz. Button mushrooms, i.e. discarded tough or dry stems, cut into slices

Salt and Pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 c. All-purpose flour

1 c. dry white wine

4 c. chicken stock

8 oz. Cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 c. Minced Leftover Pork

1 c. frozen peas

1/2 c. Grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

1 c. shredded gouda cheese

black pepper

1 c. Fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (normal) or 375 degrees (convection). Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil and cook pasta until completely bland, about 2 minutes less than package directs. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, and add mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring only occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to turn deep brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add flour. Stir well, until the flour is homogeneous with the mushrooms, and the flour is evenly moistened, about a minute. Whisk in the white wine and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Let the wine bubble shrink slightly, 2 minutes. Mix chicken broth and leave it to boil. Cook until it thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low. Whisk together the cream cheese pieces (don’t worry if the cream cheese looks curdled), then add the ham, peas, and cheese. Generously season with black pepper. Add the drained pasta and toss with tongs until combined. Taste and add salt if needed.

Transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. (I’ve split it up into two smaller articles so I can share it.)

Melt the remaining amount of butter in a small bowl in the microwave or skillet on top of the stove, and stir in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the toasted crumbs over the pasta and bake until bubbling and browned on top, 25 minutes.

Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving. It will be very creamy at first but will set when cooled.

Serve with extra Parmesan cheese for sprinkling. Makes 8 servings.

(Adapted from nytimes.com.)

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