GROW: The Book
Casseroles got a bad wrap due to canned soup and other processed foods. In truth, when made from scratch, they can be delicious, nutritious, gourmet comfort food... and being half French, I have a s special affinity for them! The main component for most casseroles is the binding sauce... the liaison. Well, most casseroles of the golden era of casseroles in America are based on either cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of onion or cream of celery soup. The few others are usually consume... maybe tomato or broth, if using rice.. So... if you start making these and stop buying them in a can (I'm sure no one in this group needs this advice...), you have total control of ingredients and nutrition to turn just about anything into casserole. What is a cream soup? First, cook down your main, usually vegetable, ingredient... onion or chopped broccoli or spinach or mushrooms, in a pan, with some fat and a little salt....herbs if you like, but you'll wand to add more the the end. Either push them to the sides of the pan or remove to a bowl for later. Toss some fat and four in that same pan and make a roux. Add milk and/or broth and/or cream. Add the main ingredients back in and you have cream of _______ soup. Chicken broth can be use din most anything, but go by your tastes. I like a good fish broth or shrimp stock (from boiling the shells), so maybe I'd use that in tuna casserole. Honestly, most people can't taste the difference in broths... except for pork, maybe... I put onion is most everything. Anyway, if you want soup, add enough milk and low simmer with some good herbs like parsley, maybe a grate of nutmeg if you use spinach... maybe some cheddar cheese if you are having broccoli... whatever you like - salt and pepper, etc to taste. If you want casserole, keep the "cream of" thick. Put some meat and veg, or fish... whatever, in a casserole dish, pour the "cream of over it and stir together.... maybe top with some bread crumbs... maybe some cheese... or put in a pie shell... or top wish mashed potatoes... bake until Golden Brown and Delicious … "GBD". If you cook with butter and salt to your taste, use fresh ingredient, etc, it is healthy, tasty, guilt-free, cheap.... excellent comfort food that can almost always be made from leftovers. I like to roast meat and veg almost weekly and either make soup or casserole.. or pot pie.... or shepherd's/cottage pie... etc, etc, etc.
Also, I have a lot of old cookbooks - a couple of the best are from the era in question or 10 years before. Actually, the recipes in those books are WhOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLEE lot better than most Americans eat today, especially if you substitute from scratch (like in y casserole recipe) for the canned ingredients they sometimes mention. On the whole though, people eat a lot more processed foods now, with a lot more chemicals, with a lot less flavor and a lot less nutrition. An honest meatloaf is exponentially better and better for you than chicken nuggets or something microwaved.
@silvertipgrizz l think the author made some very good points. Some of the odder sounding recipes were attempts to make gourmet food accessible. Cookbooks and magazines are still full of recipes like that; we've just changed our view of what is gourmet.
@blevinandwomba Don't you just love that kitchen!
Fun article! I make casseroles regularly. Between the crock pot, the instant pot and oven baked casseroles 90% of my food consumption is in a one dish form. I hate food prep and I typically make 60 meals at once (from scratch) and freeze, then toss in a few fresh veggies at meal time. Economics aside, this saves me on average 30 hours a month! 30 hours I can be doing things I personally love to do (which does not include being in the kitchen!)
@herbantherapy Oh but if I were a mouse in your kitchen to see how a practiced expert does this. Any tips?
@silvertipgrizz you can get some good ideas on Pinterest if you are so inclined. You can also watch a short (14 minute) video of ME showing the basics on how to prep 30 meals in one go. Just double or triple up if you want to do it quarterly. I often do 90 meals to cover me over the holidays. Where 30 meals take about 3-4 hours to make, 90 meals take 5-6.
@herbantherapy Thanks I'll check it out how.