When I was first married my husband and I worked all the time. We didn’t have kids, and we were both very much into our careers (still are, but kids make us come home at a decent hour…). One of my favorite things to do on the weekends was to cook – and make us meals for the week. This way when we came home, we would have a delicious healthy meal – and all we had to do was put it into the oven. I came up with a few casseroles that I made a lot – one of them was a mexican casserole, and one was a chicken noodle casserole. We loved both of them – but especially the chicken noodle one. I would make it differently each time, depending on what I had in the house to use up. I never needed a recipe, and it always tasted great.
I was reading my Bon Appetit and they had a whole section dedicated to re-done casseroles – and they had a Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill. I read the recipe, and it sounded excellent – the potato chips on the top were what sold me. But because I am an anti-fishitarian (more on that in another post), I substituted chicken for the tuna, and it was fabulous. My older daughter loved it – and so did my husband. It definitely reminded me of those good old chicken noodle casseroles that I used to make…but maybe even a little better.
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; from about 2 large)
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
- Coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 8 ounces wide egg noodles
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 cups of cooked chicken – either shredded or cubed
- 2 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips (about 2 ounces)
Butter 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt unsalted butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds to saucepan; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half and half; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season leek sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove sauce from heat.
Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles, reserving 3/4 cup noodle cooking liquid. Transfer noodles to large bowl. Pour leek sauce over noodles. Add grated Gruyère cheese and dill and stir to blend; add reserved noodle cooking liquid by tablespoons until mixture is moist and creamy (about 8 tablespoons). Fold in chicken. Transfer to prepared baking dish. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover with foil and keep refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake noodle casserole, covered with foil, until heated through, about 20 minutes if freshly made or 30 minutes if chilled. Remove foil. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over and continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and filling bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.
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