Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuna Ring with Swiss Cheese Sauce

For the first 23 years of my life, tuna meant Tuna Helper.  I love Tuna Helper.  Just ask my mom.  As a kid, I stayed at home during the summer and babysat my younger siblings.  And I made lunch every day.  What did I make just about every day?  Tuna Helper!  Even now, if you raided my pantry, you would find a few boxes of Tuna Helper I have saved for a busy day when I need something super fast (or when I just want some!).  

But in my culinary journey, I decided it was time to do something else with tuna.  So I went to an old cookbook I inherited from my grandma, and I found a recipe for tuna ring with cheese sauce.  The ring is a tuna/cheese mixture rolled into a biscuit-like crust.  I was a little trepidatious trying this recipe because my husband, though he will eat tuna, is not its biggest fan.  

I made it anyway, with a few changes to suit my taste.  Although it isn't the practically instant meal that Tuna Helper is, it was pretty easy to make.  The tuna filling simply requires stirring together a few ingredients.  Making the ring is basically making a biscuit dough and rolling it out, filling it, then rolling it back up.  
And it was totally worth it.  What I got was a savory tuna filling rolled in a beautiful, golden, buttery, flaky crust, all topped with a yummy cheese sauce.  Even my husband loved it!  The recipe I am sharing with you has less salt than the original, and I cut the cheese sauce recipe in half because we had a bunch leftover.  But all in all, this recipe was a great success!  I will definitely be making this again.  But I'm still going to eat my beloved Tuna Helper sometimes, too!

To make your own ring of tuna goodness, start by beating an egg.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg as an egg wash.
Then stir in your tuna, Swiss cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, chopped onion, and paprika.  Filling is done!
To make the ring, pulse together flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor.  Of course, you could do this by hand if you find yourself without a food processor.
Then cut in butter.
And add the milk just until the dough begins to come together.  Don't mix too much! 
Then form the dough into a ball and knead it about 5 times.
Roll the dough into about a 15x10-inch "rectangle".  I really did pass geometry.  But life's too short to make perfect rectangles.
Now just spread your tuna filling over the dough.
And roll it up and form it into a ring.
Then cut the ring 2/3 of the way through the dough, in one inch increments.
Spread the rings out a little bit, brush the dough with the egg wash, and stick it in the oven!
While the tuna ring is in the oven, make the cheese sauce.  Of course, the cheese sauce is totally optional.  The tuna ring is really good by itself, but what dish isn't better with cheese sauce on it?  
To make the sauce, start by melting margarine in a saucepan.
Add flour, salt, and pepper.  I like to add a little bit at a time and stir well between additions to help prevent lumps.
Cook the mixture until it is even and smooth.
Then add the milk.  Again, I add a little at a time and stir to ensure a smooth mixture.  No one wants lumpy cheese sauce!
Heat to a boiling, and boil for one minute.  Stir, stir, stir!
Then stir in the cheese until it is melted and thoroughly incorporated.  
Serve the cheese sauce over the tuna ring.  Yes, our little tuna is all grown up.  I'm so proud!

Tuna Ring with Swiss Cheese Sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 (7 oz) cans tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup skim milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat egg slightly in small mixing bowl.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of egg.
Stir tuna, onion, cheese, parsley, salt, paprika, and pepper into remaining egg.
In food processor, pulse together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.  With food processor running, slowly add milk just until a soft dough forms.  Move dough to a floured surface and knead 5 times.
Roll dough into a 15x10" rectangle.  Spread with tuna mixture.  Roll up, beginning at long side.  With sealed edge down, shape into a ring on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Pinch ends together.  Make cuts 2/3 of the way through ring at 1-inch intervals.  Brush top with reserved egg.
Bake 25-30 minutes.  Serve with hot Swiss cheese sauce.

Swiss Cheese Sauce
2 Tbsp margarine
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Melt margarine over low heat.  Gradually add flour, salt, and pepper.  Stir between additions to prevent lumps.  Cook over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in cheese until melted.

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