Easy Tuna Casserole with Cheese Biscuits

March 27, 2010 § 6 Comments

Lent, as you know is all about penance. Mortification. Self-denial. Eating imported fish instead of fresh meat from the front yard. From a can. But there’s one dish that I think marries perfectly with canned fish – this tuna and cheese biscuits casserole:

Isn’t it lovely?

This recipe came to me from Jacob’s grandmother Kate via her daughter (and Jacob’s godmother) Connie, who is, by every standard, a home cook extraordinaire. I want to be her when I grow up.

This recipe is also wonderful with leftover roast chicken, goose, and, especially, pheasant.

We start by chopping an onion…

A not-so in focus picture of the celery. It's the low light. Low light is to blame!

A couple stalks of celery…

You think it's about time I bleached my dutch oven in some way?

Which we are going to saute in an ample amount of butter.

I like to add a yet-unmelted chunk of butter to the vegetables that I am sauteing so it can melt and lubricate the the stuff further as it cooks.

Until just about translucent.

Next, we’re going to transform our sauteed vegetables into a lovely, thick white sauce with the help of 2 cups of milk, 3 T of flour, a bit of lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce that isn’t shown here because I thought the bottle wasn’t very photogenic.

First, add the flour to the pot…

And stir it in good.

Now pour in the milk…

And cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (you know it’s thick enough when you can see it won’t get any thicker). Remove from heat. Add a bit of lemon juice to taste, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

Now we gonna need some tuna. From a can. Yes. And it’s probably not dolphin-friendly. Even though it says natural on it. Whatever that means. Like you can feed conventional corn to tuna.

But, by the very virtue of having come from the food cooperative and not a Walmart, and having the word “natural” slapped on the label, this particular can of tuna surprised me by being made up of lovely, firm, pink flesh vs. the gray, disjointed flakes you get at your regular supermarket.

See how meaty and pink it is? I never saw tuna so pink. It felt and tasted real – a very important property in my cooking.

Tuna always makes me think of my favorite book, The Old Man and the Sea. A spectacular text. I highly recommend it, especially if you have hunted or fished. If you have pursued a pray. If you understand the profound respect a hunter has for the life he is about to take in order to live. I think I am calling my next son Santiago.

Now get some parsley…

And chop it not so fine. Not so fine at all. I like to see the individual leaves.

Add tuna and parsley to the sauce and stir it in. Set it aside for a moment. We are now going to make our biscuits.

First we’re going to need, what else, cheese (I used mild cheddar)! It’s Wisconsin, after all.

We’re also gonna need some flour, salt, and baking powder.

Throw them all together into a bowl of a mixer and mix.

Now take 2 T butter,

And allow the mixer to cut it in on medium-low speed like for pie crust – until it looks like this.

Now take an egg, beat it,

And drop it into the bowl of the mixer.

Pour in 1/3 C milk,

And mix again on low until moistened all the way through.

Now spread the tuna-white sauce mixture in a casserole dish about this size,

And drop individual portions of biscuit batter on top with a spoon. I used a tablespoon.

Like this.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min or until looks like this.

We absolutely love this dish! The sharp cheesy biscuits go so well with the mild creaminess of tuna in white sauce.

Tuna Bake with Cheese Biscuits

Source: It’s In The Dough: A Kate Hundt Recipe Collection

(Don’t look for it in bookstores – it’s not a published book but a self-printed collection put together by Josie’s godmother, Julie, who singlehandedly organized, edited, typed-up, edited again, printed, and distributed this very special book between Hundt family members and their special friends. If you are in possession of this book, the recipe is found on page 151).


  • a couple stalks of celery
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 stick butter, for sauteing
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 C milk
  • 1 can tuna, drained (I really recommend buying a Whole Foods-grade tuna)
  • lemon juice to taste
  • a dash of Worcestershire
  • chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cheese Biscuits

  • 1 C flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 C milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Saute celery and onions in butter until translucent. Stir in flour and gradually pour in milk, stirring the entire time. Cook over low heat until thick. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, parsley, and stir in the tuna. Break up large chunks into smaller pieces. Pour into a large casserole dish (11 x 7 is best) and set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cheese in a bowl of an electric mixer (or a medium bowl if you don’t have a mixer). Cut in the butter using the paddle attachment (or a pastry cutter if making by hand), until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and egg to the mixture and blend until damp.

Drop the dough on top of sauce using a large tablespoon (and I mean an actual tablespoon you eat with, not the measuring tablespoon, which tend to be smaller). Bake uncovered for 20 min.

Variations: I’ve also made this with leftover roast (or otherwise cooked) chicken, goose, or pheasant.

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