My grandmother, Doris, owned a restaurant in Fayetteville, AR in the 1970’s and 80’s called The Farmers Daughter. Funny thing though, Doris didn’t cook. She owned a restaurant basically so she would have a place to sing her songs on a red leather bar stool and celebrate an Arkansas win on football weekends (back in the SWC days.) The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant was an old farm-house that served classic, southern style dishes with beautifully on white clothed tables by one of Doris’ Arkansas rugby player waiters, she only employed waiters. Growing up around “The Daughter,” as she called it, was fun, interesting and always educational as my love of food, hospitality, entertaining, music and so much more started by watching the dance that took place between front and back of the house every night at “The Daughter.”
We had a chance to visit the restaurant, that we turned into our home in the later 1980’s, on a recent trip back to Fayetteville. Still standing, the 100+ year-old building still stood on a hill looking out on the U of A farms.
Over a somewhat surreal tour of the grounds and home, now an attorney’s office, I truly felt joyful that she was still standing and that I had such funny memories of this place. Seeing the beautiful stained glass windows with The Farmer’s Daughter logo, pictured right, made me a little tearful.
Which led me to create a few of Doris’ favorite Daughter dishes, masterfully perfected by her cook, Ms. Phillips. Including, turkey tetrazzini. And, this may be the best turkey tetrazinni ever created as we used smoked Greenberg turkey, with smoked turkey stock, and we infused the bechamel sauce with earthy Crimini mushrooms and a hint of truffle. And, like Doris loved, it isn’t our healthiest recipe, but it is rich, creamy and delicious, as she would want.
Smoky Turkey Tetrazzini
For the sauce:
2 1/2 cups whole milk, or heavy cream (we had both on hand so used a little over a cup of each)
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper and salt
4 ounces chopped Crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon truffle paste
For the casserole:
2 cups shredded turkey, we used both light and dark meat from the Greenberg turkey
1 cup smoked turkey stock, or regular chicken stock
1 white onion, chopped
8 ounces chopped Crimini mushrooms
3 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
10 ounces pasta – spaghetti, angel hair, linguini, whatever you like
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper
Bring a stock pot with water to a boil to cook the pasta.
For the sauce: Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add the garlic and flour, stir to incorporate and cook for about 3-4 minutes, to cook some of the raw flour taste out. Add the thyme, truffle, salt and pepper, cook for 1 minute then add the milk and cream. Bring to a low boil. Stir in the nutmeg then take off the meat as the sauce thickens. Set aside.
When the stock pot is boiling add about 1/4 cup salt and a tablespoon or two of oil and drop the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan add 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook until soft, stirring often. Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the turkey, parsley and stock, warming through. Assemble the casserole by adding the pasta, turkey mixture and sauce to a large bowl and stir to fully incorporate. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and scoop the tetrazzini into the dish. Top with cheddar cheese.
Mix the parmesan and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top. Drizzle the top with the remaining tablespoon of oil and cover with foil. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan, in case it the casserole bubbles over, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve with a green salad and a smoky Malbec.