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Crazy casserole idea

I made the America's Test Kitchen roast chicken - the best! (long) a while back

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3127...

and was was very pleased. Maybe someone listening is familiar with it.

The simple preparation for the sliced potatoes created the most delicious consistency and texture (scalloped?) that I want to duplicate for a casserole.

I have an idea for several other ingredients I want to use and I searched for a recipe/technique to fundamentally match without success, to see if someone else agreed and to get tips, and to make sure that what I want to do makes sense before I waste my time making something disappointing.

Along with the potatoes (Idaho?) I want to add eggplant with some smokiness and meaty texture, cheese, tomatoes, onions, various roasted chili peppers (amarillo, anaheim, jalapeno), maybe bell peppers as well (too much?), bacon/sausage (optional).

There are a lot of opinions on how to handle eggplant, salting beforehand, cooking methods, etc. That's a major concern for me in a preparation like this.

I also have canned tomatoes and paste I can use, so I wondering about amounts of liquid that should be added. Also possible additions of condensed soup, milk, sour cream, etc.

I know I'm probably over thinking this, but what do you think. Does this combination of ingredients make sense? I would appreciated your opinion.

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  1. Edit edit edit. I think you have far too many ingredients and personally I do not see them together. I think potato dauphinoise( au gratin, scalloped etc...) with a little bacon(or pork product) is all that is needed, perfect in its simplicity. I also love love eggplant caponata with tomatoes, raisins, capers, peppers, cinnamon, vinegar and finished with mint (Mario Batali) lots of variations. My ideal meal would be roast chicken, creamy potatoes, acidic caponata and a bitter green. Whatever you do have fun and experiment, that is how we develop our cooking skills and gain knowledge of combinations we like. So be crazy and try it but please make sure you let us know how it turns out!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gloriaa

      I agree. Much editing needed.

      Also the cooking techniques for the chicken fat potatoes at very high heat and a casserole with all that stuff are fundamentally very different .

      Maybe try a simple scalloped potato or dauphinoise first and then experiment by adding a limited amount of additional ingredients?

      Saveur had a scalloped potato recipe in its September or October issue

    2. You'll have a soggy mess unless you cut way back on the vegetables and get rid of most of the liquids. Try the ATK potatoes boulangere. If you master that, add one or two (at most) more vegetables to that preparation.

      1. sorry,
        to me, you have a mix/mash of a lot of ingredients that don't go together in terms of flavor, required cooking technique or anything else.

        if you want to make a potato dish, i'd start with any of the simple preparations from THE JOY OF COOKING or any other such cookbook.

        either make a potato dish, or you can use almost all of the other ingredients you have mentioned (without the potato) to make ratatouille.

        my advice would be to pick ONE path: either potato or ratatouille.

        1. Read this piece titled Summer Vegetable Gratins from Fine Cooking. It offers some good advice and a good starting point that you can work from. They feature an eggplant & tomato gratin that you can play with to make it closer to what flavor profile you're looking for. Good luck!

          http://www.finecooking.com/articles/h...

          1. Seems an excess of ingredients to me - many of which, to my mind, don't work with others. It leaves me unsure about what result you intend for the dish and what purpose you intend it to serve.

            1. kitchen sink.

              what's your goal?

              forget the soup entirely.

              if you want to make some sort of vegetarian/low-carb lasagne with the eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, etc. that's one thing. including sausage in there would still keep it low-carb.

              there are recipes on-line for potato/eggplant moussaka if you want to go that way.

              1. Thanks everyone for your responses and confirming my doubts about what I was considering.

                I was aiming to take advantage of a combo of stuff already waiting in the fridge to come up with a spicy, cheesy, creamy, hearty side dish with the eggplant providing a meaty textured, that would also freeze well. The eggplant didn't quite fit in the equation, but I'll take your suggestions in the best way to use it, or maybe a Baba Ganoush.

                By relying on the fundamentals of a Betty's Kitchen recipe, "Betty's Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese"

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umguT0...

                http://www.bettyskitchen.us/pdf/potat...

                I came up with some scalloped potatoes with a little "kick"

                As-is, it is may not be for someone watching their waistline, sodium intake or cholesterol, but all that good stuff really made it decadent. It's salty and a little hot, but that's the way I love it.

                If your not interested in taking a little side trip to the wild side, you may want to adjust some ingredients to your lifestyle and taste.

                My health conscious daughter and husband could hardly help from literally inhaling it.

                "Spicy Four Pepper Two Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes"

                6 medium or 10 small Russet potatoes (or whatever potato variety you like to use), peeled and sliced 1/8” thick
                3 tablespoons butter or margarine
                1/4 cup flour
                1 ½ teaspoon salt
                2 cups milk
                1 lb medium cheddar cheese shredded
                1/3 lb pepper jack cheese shredded cheese – the proportion of cheddar to jack can vary, but I like the flavor balance of more cheddar than jack, at least a 2 to 1 ratio (or substitute any cheese of your choice)
                1 medium chopped onion
                3 jalapeno peppers seeded, chopped and sauteed, or roasted and chopped
                Approx 1 cup combined Anaheim, Amarillo and Red bell peppers, roasted, seeded and chopped (or use whatever amount and variety of peppers you like – I like a lot of pepper and just happened to have these particular ones pre-roasted in the freezer – maybe next time I’ll even use more)
                cooking oil
                cooking spray
                salt and black pepper, to taste

                Preparation:
                Roast the peppers (*see instructions below).

                Prepare the sliced potatoes (I used a food processor), and cover them with cold water in a bowl to keep from getting brown.

                Sauté the onions until translucent. I also sautéed the Jalapenos instead of roasting. Either way is fine.

                CHEESE SAUCE
                In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Flour, stirring with a whisk or spoon until smooth. Add 2 cups milk and stir, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Return mixture to low heat, warm up and add shredded cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese sauce is smooth and creamy thick. Remove from heat. Stir in peppers and onions.

                Apply thin film of oil or cooking spray to bottom and sides of a 13” by 9” dish, and spoon about 1/3 of the cheese sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, spreading evenly. Place 1/2 of the sliced potatoes in an even layer on top of the cheese sauce. Salt and pepper to taste (potatoes are hard to get salty, but not too much salt at this point), and pour approximately another third of the cheese sauce over the top, enough to fully cover the potatoes; don’t skimp. Next, layer the rest of the sliced potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste again, and pour the remainder of cheese sauce evenly over the top layer.

                At this point, Betty suggests if your cheese sauce does not come up to the level of the potatoes, add milk, distributing it evenly, until there is liquid all the way to the top of the potatoes(Betty used 2 additional cups of milk, but I did not, because my adaptation of the recipe created a lot more cheese sauce).

                Cover the casserole with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake 45 minutes longer. OR, pull from oven after 40 minutes to top with cheese then broil last 5 minutes. Test the potatoes with a fork, and, if they are soft, remove the casserole from the oven. Place the foil back on top of the casserole, and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes to let the potatoes soak up all the liquid and settle. Remove the foil and serve.

                *ROASTED PEPPERS
                Use whatever technique you like. Caution: When handling hot peppers, use gloves or plastic bags to protect hands eyes, nose, etc. from the burning effects of the pepper oils. I don’t have gas oven burners, so I prefer to roast peppers whole on a broiling pan at least 6” under the broiler (I don’t like them too close to the broiler). Keep the oven door ajar to maintain steady heat, but keep an eye on them. You want to blacken the skin slightly but not over roast, because over roasting will shrink the volume of pepper meat & make the meat of the pepper difficult to remove from the skin. Turn when one portion is blackened to expose uncharred areas until roasted evenly all around. You may also have to rotate positions on the broiler pan if your broiler cooks unevenly. When done, remove and place peppers in a plastic bag, seal and let them sit for at least 15-30 minutes. When ready, skins should peel off easily. Remove the seeds. Do not use water when peeling or seeding. Not necessary and washes away some flavor.

                The cheese sauce would also be perfect for nachos, enchiladas, by itself as a hot or cool dip, etc., etc.

                Take the casserole to the entree level by adding sausage, bacon, chicken, to the cheesy layers.

                Not to mention broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, whatever.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nolanvode

                  Good suggestion about handling hot peppers. In my case, I've been doing it bare handed so many years that my left hand no longer burns from handling them. However, if I touch sensitive body parts with my left hand, then agony occurs. Lots of hand washing takes place after handling habaneros and ghost peppers (bhut jolokia).

                  When I roast hot peppers, I first slice them in half from stem to tip, and remove the seeds. It is my assumption that removing seeds is easier when the chiles are firm. Then I flatten them on a cutting board, put them on aluminum foil, of course, skin side up, and then roast them. I use recycled ricotta cheese containers which are covered for the steaming process rather than plastic bags because it makes the retrieving process much easier.

                  1. re: ChiliDude

                    People end up in the emergency room cause of this. I learned the hard way, fortunately not ending in the ER, but I came close, and it was scary. I rubbed my eye for a spit second and the next thing I knew I couldn't open my eye without it burning terribly, and that was easily 15 hours after I had prepared the peppers. I'm stubborn, so I just stuck it out and It stopped after a while, but I just got lucky really.

                    Not to mention the occasions when my hands have burned well into the next day after preparing peppers bare handed.

                    It may not always happen the same every time. The effects seem to vary from one instance to another for whatever reason, which gives a false sense of security. I don't take chances anymore.

                    To explain capsaicin (the chemical in pepper oils that create the heat), from "How to Get Rid of Hot Pepper Oils on the Hands": "Capsaicinoids are not water-soluble, so washing your hands with water just spreads the burning sensation around" (not to mention washing your eyes, nose, etc.)
                    http://www.ehow.com/how_5948696_rid-h...

                    http://www.ehow.com/how_4519768_hands...

                    http://www.ehow.com/how_4510573_wash-...

                    I used to roast pepper in a similar method to yours, but I find them easier to handle and peel whole. I like to roast a bunch at a time (for freezing - they hold up very well for extended lengths of time). They take up much less room on the cooking vessel whole. No matter how I try to flatten them, there are always rounded portions that don't catch the heat evenly, and then you have to fiddle with those parts to get some attention. When whole, after they are peeled, one slit down the side and just scoop seeds out with a spoon or butter knife.

                    Your containers are a good idea. I like the way you can seal out all the air with a bag and keep them steaming, moist and warm. I don't find retrieving them a problem. Fine either way I suppose.

                2. You might want to look into Stir-fried Roasted Eggplant from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I follow the recipe very loosely, according to what condiments I have on hand, and it's always good as a main, bruschetta topping, condiment, or side. You roast the whole eggplant first, which does away with eggplant's tendency to sponge up oil. The combo of stirfried eggplant, ginger (I dice pickled ginger), some type of soy paste/sauce, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and tomato is complex and wonderful.

                  1. It does sound like a lot going on, but if a primary objective is using the eggplant and other ingredients to make a tasty dish which is meaty in its substantiality, I will offer one of my faves. I put a fair amount of EVOO in a large pan with a few cloves of crushed garlic, heat it, brush it on half inch slices of eggplant and grill them. In the remaining oil I sweat some minced onion and proceed to a puttanesca by tossing in a few diced tomatoes, capers, salt cured olives, red pepper flakes, and a splash of some bright white wine like a pinot Grigio. It takes about as long to make as the eggplant does to grill so everything is hot. Layer it in a casserole with grated cheese of choice. I like Pecorino Romano. It plus the capers is really all the salt the dish needs. A chiffonade of fresh basil is an optional topping. It will soon be gone here in Austin. This has nothing to do with the chicken recipe or the potatoes...just an eggplant idea and now that I have written it I am too invested not to hit "reply," but I am sure you are a forgiving person.

                    6 Replies
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        Chicken and potatoes battle now history. It's all about the eggplant now. What a generous place this is. Glad I came.

                        A couple more great suggestions. Grilling the eggplant with the infused garlic oil would be great on its own, not to mention the rest of the journey.

                        Stir-fried Roasted Eggplant? Wow. Sometimes you get stuck in one place thinking about certain things. Never would have occurred to me to do that.

                        I've already roasted the eggplant in prep for a Baba, but instead I'm now very curious to see what that smoky roasted eggplant is transformed into when stir fried.

                        1. re: nolanvode

                          This IS a generous place. The home cooking 'hounds are the best! They teach me something every day!

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: nolanvode

                            When I cook something I like, I usually freeze some for a busy friend. This time I told my veterinarian friend I wasn't sharing, not a teaspoon, and to picture me as in the Finding Nemo scene in which the shrieking of seagulls is translated into "Mine! Mine!", or to the occasional kitten who, when given something extra-good to eat, plants its paws wide, so as to slash at whoever comes near, emitting a growling yowl at the same time as it chomps away on the food.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Love the idea of sticking it in a panini press (although I just use the ridged side of a CI griddle and a weight on whatever I am cooking). Thanks!

                          2. I'm reading, not listening, but I like your willingness to experiment. So go for it after eliminating some of the ingredients as others have suggested. I like the Mexitalian ingredients...tomatoes, onions, choose one of the chiles (jalapeno). If you have canned diced tomatoes, you probably will not need the other liquids you've mentioned. It may be best if you add cheese after the other ingredients have cooked, thus letting the heated casserole melt it. It may be less gooey that way.

                            BTW, I belong to the "What if...?" school of cooking specializing in "cuisine impromptu."