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Casserole: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 06:06 PM

Growing up my Mom refused to make us casseroles of any type. She believed (from childhood experience) that casseroles were just leftovers covered under a layer of shredded cheese. Until I moved out and went to college I thought the same thing.

However after my experiences having dinner at my friends houses and other extended family I've actually gotten to try all sorts of casseroles... The Good- Broc, cheese & rice. The Bad- anything made with Campbell's Tomato soup or topped with crushed saltines. And the Ugly- Tuna Noodle casserole. :)

Any thoughts?

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  1. TheHuntress RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 06:15 PM

    I thought for years and years that I hated all casseroles. Mainly because anything my mother cooked and called "casserole" was just not nice at all. I remember prodding at that tasteless crud for hours. But like many different dishes and ingredients, I discovered I liked them after I left home and had the freedom to cook food that I wanted to eat. Now I love a good casserole, it makes me so happy in Winter to bung it in the oven, invite a bunch of people over to share and have that amazing smell drifting around. Favourites last Winter were a Tuscan beef stew, oxtail and osso bucco. When the weather starts cooling down I shall start looking for some new recipes to play with.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TheHuntress
      Munkipawse RE: TheHuntress Feb 12, 2012 06:38 PM

      Do you eat any "cold" casseroles? Or are all yours hot casseroles.

      1. re: Munkipawse
        TheHuntress RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 06:54 PM

        Mine are all hot - unless it counts when I am slumped in the open fridge door at 0200am, in a robe, spooning cold casserole into my mouth?

        But in all serious I don't really know any "cold" casseroles. It is something I've only recently got into, after the horrors of my childhood. Oh, the only exception was my mothers beef in beer, but even then I only really liked the baguette slathered in mustard baked on top.

    2. s
      smartie RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 07:22 PM

      A casserole in UK/Australia is not the same as an American casserole. It was confusing for me when I moved to the US because in the UK a casserole is a meat and everything cooked in one pot like a stew generally done in the oven. Americans mean it as anything in a dish that's been in the oven so mac and cheese is a casserole.

      2 Replies
      1. re: smartie
        TheHuntress RE: smartie Feb 12, 2012 10:10 PM

        Ah right. Now it makes more sense, ta. :)

        1. re: smartie
          tatamagouche RE: smartie Feb 13, 2012 09:44 AM

          Well, no, not "anything done in an oven." If you roast a chicken, that's a roast chicken, not a casserole. I don't know that the American definition is so distinctive from yours (though I don't see why they have to have meat). I don't think of mac-and-cheese as a casserole either: I think of it as mac-and-cheese. Though there are baked pasta dishes I'd consider casseroles.

          I do adore one-pot dishes of all kinds, be they baked or stovetop. They're so versatile—the easiest thing to make up, along I suppose with stirfries.

        2. e
          escondido123 RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 08:07 PM

          We often do baked pasta--often in a 4 cheese sauce--that gets finished under the broiler. If this is a casserole, I'm all for it.

          1. John E. RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 08:31 PM

            I grew up and live in Minnesota, land of the casserole called "hotdish". A hotdish, like a casserole can be anything and the results mostly depend on the quality of the cook and/or the recipe. My mother made a lot of casseroles and none of them were similar to what the OP described except for the ubiquitous tuna noodle casserole, but mom quit making that when I was quite young because nobody wanted to eat it (we got it at school lunch and I hated it). Most of the casseroles/hotdish were based on ground beef and could either go the tomato route or the bechamel route (mostly people used cream of something soup, but my mother thought they had too much fat and salt).

            None of my mother's hotdishes were made with leftovers.

            I am referring to my mother's casseroles because as an adult, we don't typically make them at home but sure we do get them at various church-type functions such as funerals.

            1. eclecticsynergy RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 11:34 PM

              I grew up on canned-soup casseroles. But as an adult I found that the casserole universe as much wider than I'd thought. Here are a couple that have been longtime favorites of mine.

              James Beards Mushroom-Barley Casserole:

              Brown Rice & Cheese Casserole- out of this world and really easy!

              1. f
                fourunder RE: Munkipawse Feb 12, 2012 11:40 PM

                Tetrazzini.....the good

                3 Replies
                1. re: fourunder
                  pippimac RE: fourunder Feb 13, 2012 02:42 AM

                  A traditional 'casserole' in New Zealand basically=stew baked in the oven.
                  Way back when lamb shanks were cheap, Mum used to make really basic casseroled shanks with mashed potatoes.
                  I still love that kind of food.

                  1. re: fourunder
                    mcel215 RE: fourunder Feb 13, 2012 02:47 AM

                    Giada's Tetrazzini is especially good! :)


                    1. re: mcel215
                      fourunder RE: mcel215 Feb 13, 2012 09:22 AM

                      I fell in love with Tetrazinni the very first time I had Stouffer's as a wee,small lad....many decades ago.....I believe I did see Giada make it on one of her shows....and I agree it looked especially good.

                  2. chrissy1988 RE: Munkipawse Feb 13, 2012 11:36 AM

                    good--green bean casserole. bad--anything with peas. ugly--anything with meat.

                    1. free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: Munkipawse Feb 13, 2012 08:51 PM

                      I bought the Big Book of Casseroles by Maryanna Volstedt and it truly changed how I felt about them. She has one that is basically chicken cacciatore over polenta but as a casserole. It's really good and freezes and travels well.

                      1. c
                        CDouglas RE: Munkipawse Feb 14, 2012 07:39 AM

                        King Ranch Chicken was a staple in my house through childhood and is now something I prepare for my kids. Great recipe here:

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