I am pretty severe in my “silent movies only” rule but I do make one kind of exception: making oddball 1970s celebrity recipes with cool internet people! And so today, Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers and I are making Alice Cooper’s dangerous, deadly, hard rock… tuna casserole?
Here’s Jenny’s recipe report with bonus factoids on Cooper’s tuna noodle experiences.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept (I have a decent number of non-American readers) tuna casserole is a comfort food/mid-century/budget meal classic. It’s kind of like meatloaf in that a fair number of people consider it a nostalgic bit of deliciousness and they eat it when they feel sad and it makes them feel better.
I am not one of those people. I don’t dislike the dish but I find it decidedly “meh” and would probably rather have chili for a budget meal. (But not this chili.)
However, I was remarkably and easily amused by the concept of hard rocker Alice Cooper selecting this as his dish for a rock star recipe collection. Maybe he appreciated the humor too, I like to think he did and it certainly goes along with the sense of humor he has displayed over the years. In any case, it’s not any casserole, it’s FUNKY tuna casserole!
What makes this casserole… Funky? Chow mein noodles and cashews, the funkiest of foods! (If you’re curious about a more traditional tuna casserole, here’s a recipe. It’s usually made with cooked egg noodles and topped with bread crumbs.)
When we say chow mein noodles, we don’t mean actual, authentic chow mein noodles. No, these noodles are kind of like little pretzels sans shiny wash and they are sold in a can as a topping. They were considered quite the thing (my mother grew up in Ohio so I consulted her on this important matter) and I have to admit, they are pretty yummy.
As for the rest, cashews are a bit unusual but the celery, onion and condensed soup are absolutely traditional.
Result: It was… okay? If you like tuna casserole, you will probably like this. If you don’t this won’t win over any converts. I should also note that the people tasting the dish who DID like tuna casserole complained that there were no peas, which are usually present. Also, the chow mein noodles made the thing a bit dry. (But cooked noodles can make it too wet, this can be a fussy recipe.) However, everyone liked the cashews.
It’s not a beauty queen of a recipe (no version would be) and there’s no point in pretending it is but… it won’t kill you. I don’t think I will make it again but now I know how to get funky with tuna! (Also, I very much enjoyed selecting obnoxious colors for a 1970s vibe. How did I do?)