On A Casserole

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Casseroles are great family fare because they can be cooked and served from the same dish. They emerge from the oven hot and bubbly and when they come to the table covered, there's always that great moment when the lid comes off, the steam rises, and everybody anxiously looks to see what's for supper. Although many folks glumly report having endured another holiday season with green bean casserole, most of us would gladly enjoy a casserole, albeit not the Campbell Soup Company 1955 mushroom soup classic, on any night of the week and during any time of the year. Even finicky eaters are crazy for casseroles, where vegetables, meat and sometimes a starch come together in one delicious dish that is generally easy to make, economical to serve and won't mind sitting around while family comes to the table. Casseroles are great for making ahead, for bringing to a neighbor or friend who is sick and are the ultimate potluck food. Only one reader complained, in February of 2008, about my printing a recipe for a retro tuna fish casserole. But, it was Lent and over 50 years of oh-so-good perfect tuna casseroles leaves an impression.

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Photo By Sue Ade
Photo By Sue Ade
Whether it's a cottage pie made with beef (upper right), chili with ground turkey (lower right) or fish baked with potatoes (lower left), everybody's crazy for a casserole. Serve casseroles from a large casserole dish, individual casseroles, or in shallow bowls

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Baked Chili

1 pound ground turkey or lean beef

1 small onion chopped

1 green pepper, seeded with membrane removed, finely chopped

1 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, undrained

Sour cream, regular, low-fat, or non fat, for garnish

Rice for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large oven-safe casserole, brown turkey or beef over medium-high heat; drain any accumulated fat, then add onion and pepper and cook until vegetables are soft. Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, paprika and beans. Bake, uncovered, until heated through, about 45 minutes. Garnish with sour cream and serve with rice, if desired. Makes about 6 servings.

Cottage Pie

1 (22-ounce) package frozen mashed potatoes

1 pound lean ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Salt

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed beef consomm

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, regular or reduced fat, shredded*

Paprika for sprinkling on top of potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook potatoes according to directions on package; set aside. Cook beef with onion in large skillet, over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is cooked through, then drain fat from skillet. Stir in flour, marjoram and pepper, then add consomm and Worcestershire, stirring until thickened. Taste for salt, adding as desired. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart shallow casserole dish. Mix egg with potatoes, then spoon in mounds on top of beef mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, dividing cheese over potatoes, sprinkle with paprika, then bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings.

*Kitchen Ade Note: I like Cabot's 50 percent Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese or 50 percent Reduced Fat Jalapeo Cheddar Cheese.

Baked Cod with Potatoes, Peppers and Tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, seeded with membrane removed, finely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, seeded with membrane removed, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (26-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed

1/2 cup tomato pure

1 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon dried thyme, or several branches fresh thyme

1 teaspoon capers

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons Pernod, or other anise-flavored liqueur

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch sugar

Salt and ground black pepper

4 cod fillets, about 2 pounds

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices

French bread for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain potatoes, pat dry and place on the bottom of a greased shallow baking dish large enough to hold fish in a single layer. Rinse fish, pat dry, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Place fish on top of the potatoes; set baking dish aside. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, pepper and garlic; sauting for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato pure, parsley, thyme, capers, bay leaf, fennel, lemon juice and Pernod, then simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Season with cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste. Pour mixture over fish and bake until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf, serving from the casserole dish or in shallow bowls with crusty French bread. Makes 3 to 4 servings.



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