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My mother had to feed 12 people three meals a day on a rather skimpy budget. When I think back on it, this was really quite a feat. Although I learned a lot from being in the kitchen with her, I wish I’d paid a little more attention to her creative resourcefulness in stretching her food budget, keeping food interesting/healthy, and not being wasteful.

It was a big deal for me, last Christmas, to feed eight people in my small abode. That one meal took a lot of planning, and I got a lot of it wrong. I had enough food for an army, as it turns out. An army considerably larger than eight. There were leftovers.

Mom was creative with leftovers, or whatever was at hand. Part of the trick was, of course, making sure that the right basic stuff was on hand. And, honestly, when feeding 12 people, casseroles made from opening a tin or two of this or that never did generate complaints. Therefore, one of the “must have” cooking ingredients was a supply of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

Food snobs poo-poo recipes that include the instruction “Open a tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup” as being well below acceptable standards of cuisine. On most days, I consider myself a bit of a food snob.* Except today. And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup on hand, just when I needed it.

Usually, Sunday dinner involved a large, roasted dead creature. My father, a Brit and a butcher/farmer by trade, would call any roasted dead creature “a joint” and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out why. Most popular beef roasts do not involve a part of the anatomy anywhere close to a joint. When the “joint” was not beef or pork, there would be poultry – either chicken (several) or a turkey, which was my favourite.

Turkey was my favourite primarily because turkey leftover options involved a few of my all time leftover favourites, all of which also involved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Something heavenly happens when you combine leftover turkey gravy with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. These favourites included:

– turkey a la king (creamed turkey with veggies, served on toast)
– turkey pot pie (my all time, bar none, favourite leftover meal – essentially, turkey a la king in pastry)
– turkey tetrazini (somehow different than creamed turkey on toast and I’m not sure why)

So, tonight, staring at a fridge filled with well-enjoyed, but nearly about to go off meat and veg, I embarked on a slightly more health conscious version of tetrazini, which I dubbed “Three Pork Tetrazini” or by its Swedish name “Pork Pork Pork!!”

First, I had to go to the general store to fetch the requisite tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. I spotted a coyote on the way back from the store. I am, truly, where the wild things are.

But, I digress … the rest went as follows:

1. Boil water for whole wheat pasta of choice. Prepare to desired doneness. Drain.

2. While the pasta is doing its thing, chop four slices of bacon into one inch squares and toss in fry pan @ medium-high. Follow this with:
– garlic
– chopped onion
– chopped peppers
– mushrooms (lotsa mushrooms)

3. Stir the fry pan mixture around a lot. If bacon isn’t providing enough grease, add oil of choice – either butter or olive oil will do.

4. Pour glass of wine. 🙂

5. When the bacon is looking almost done, add chopped leftover pork loin and chopped lean ham. Keep stir frying.

6. For heaven’s sake, don’t over cook the pasta!!!

7. Add several handfuls of baby spinach carefully picked over for mushy leaves and those weird skinny non-spinach leaves that always seem to sneak in. Keep stirring this up.

8. When the spinach has “melted” and incorporated into the mixture, add the tin of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Stir to blend in and let heat through.

9. This recipe has both BACON and tinned pseudo-food. DO NOT add more salt at any time. That is just silly.

10. While the soup heats through and blends in, grate some old cheddar. Sprinkle that on top and stir until incorporated. The whole mix may take on a brownish tinge. This is desireable.

11. Add the drained pasta (hope you started with a big enough pan!) and keep folding until the pasta is fully covered in the sauce.

12. Pour another glass of wine. Serve.

The observant amongst my readers will note that this recipe does not have to be made with pork or, indeed, any dead creatures at all. Any combination of stuff stir-fried in garlic and oil, coated in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup and glued together with old cheddar and served over pasta is going to be pretty yummy.

And it was. 🙂 AND … if you serve it with enough wine and call it “tetrazini”, your guests may just believe you!

*I was called a “coffee snob” the other day. I can’t imagine why. 😉

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3 comments to “Tetrazini”

  1. Liz, i am really enjoying your recent stories. so glad you are in writing/blogging mode again 🙂 Re: cream of mushroom soup. totally, it’s amazing stuff. one of my faves is making “chicken analogue” crepes with a lovely onion and mushroom sauce. yum yum. in fact i just make hat for dinner tonight. thank you for the inspiration.

    ciao bella,

  2. hey, you inspired me to make my own version. But without bacon or mushroom soup. Or mushrooms. Or pork. Or turkey.


  3. Ewa … what, dare I ask, is “chicken analogue”? Hope your dinner was scrumptious!

    Cate … I’m always happy to inspire, but what *did* yours have in it if it didn’t contain any of the essentials? Boot leather? gummi bears? frites? tofurkey? cinammon?

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