Sunday, May 16, 2010

Deep Dish Tuna Pie

It's been a month since my last post, which would be hard to believe if I hadn't spent it wrapping up two part time jobs in the last two weeks of April so I could start a new full-time gig at the beginning of this month. I also find it more fun to cook when friends come over, and it's been a few weeks since we last got together. Tonight, however, everyone was here and I decided to tackle the Deep Dish Tuna Pie.

I don't ever remember Grandma making this. I don't really remember anything like it, either, but I could just be forgetting. I picked it because it looked pretty straightforward, I had most of the ingredients on hand, and I was thrilled to find something that looked good that wasn't a cake or a cookie. In all honesty, that's the largest section in this recipe box, and attempting to alternate those recipes with things that aren't, say, loaded with sugar can be a challenge. So this recipe looked perfect when I found it a few nights ago. It's clipped out of a newspaper, and while I made a few minor modifications, I pretty much followed the recipe as it's laid out.

Deep Dish Tuna Pie

1 can (1 pound) peas
1 can cream of celery soup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each pepper and thyme
1 can (4 oz.) pimiento, diced
3 cans tuna in vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup prepared biscuit mix
1 cup grated process American cheese

Drain liquid from peas; reserve 1/2 cup. Combine reserved liquid with undiluted soup, salt, pepper, and thyme in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add drained peas, pimiento, and tuna. Add milk to biscuit mix. Stir with fork to make soft dough. Turn tuna-vegetable mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Spread biscuit dough over top. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in a moderately hote oven (400F) 20 minutes. Serves 6.

I have to say that unless I am feeling especially nostalgic for the elementary school lunches of my childhood, I don't eat canned peas. I bought a 1-pound bag of the frozen variety instead and eyeballed about how many I might need. I thawed about 2/3 of the bag and used slightly less than that when I actually added them to the mixture. You'll know when it looks about right. I also only used one can of tuna in oil, just in case it actually made a difference (I don't think it does). And since I didn't have liquid to reserve from the peas that weren't canned, I mixed water and milk to make 1/2 cup instead. Can't imagine that made a big difference, either. Finally, the idea of grated American cheese really made me raise my eyebrows, so I used a mix of various New England sharp cheddar cheeses instead, which I'm sure tasted a whole lot better than American would have. (Does anyone actually know what American cheese is? Aside from something that I only use in grilled cheese or cheeseburgers?) I didn't bother to measure it--I just sprinkled it on top until it looked fairly well covered.

Finally, I'm not really sure who might be able to spread that dough on top of something that is essentially liquid, but I sure wasn't seeing how that idea didn't completely defy the laws of physics, so I didn't even try. I parceled it out by teaspoons, dropping it until I'd pretty much covered the top. That worked pretty well and I'm sure was less frustrating (and less messy!) than the alternative.

All told, we all thought this recipe came out quite well, and it really takes no time to put it together and bake it. I probably spent more time looking for a dish that looked like it would hold two quarts (not my trusty 8x8 pan this time!) than I did throwing it all together, so it'd be a great, easy weeknight main dish.
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