"Casseroles have an image problem."

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"Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:37 pm

Great opening line in this NY Times article. It very much reminded me of the list of things Bob told me he would not eat on one of our first dates. It was a list that included olives, artichokes, corn tortillas, sourdough bread, blue cheese, pickles, and soup or stew of any kind, among other things. He ended the list with, "oh, and casseroles." So for years, soups were "_____ with broth", stews were 'braises' and casseroles were 'one-dish meals'. By the time he caught on it was too late--he now liked these foods. But the reason he didn't was the very problem alluded to in the article, an over-reliance on gimmicky shortcuts badly executed by the women before me who fed him.

I don't actually make many casseroles just because I tend to prefer more contrasting flavors and textures on a plate as a rule. Which is why when I do go casserole, it's a treat. The few I repeat--and I don't use a recipe, just make out of things on hand so every version's different--is a variation on my evil stepmother's 'Viva la Chicken' which did indeed come off the back of a Campbell's soup can. Essentially, hers was a white enchilada pie. My versions don't use canned soup, but I did love Betty's right-off-the-can model which is why I still make a similar, but better and more complex, enchilada pie today. I would also sing the praises of many recipes posted here on FLDG--Mike Filigenzi's tuna and noodle casserole, and an extremely complex Morroccan chicken dish posted by Paul Winalski many moons ago.

The article is a great reminder of how complex and classy a great casserole can be.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/dining/the-casserole-catches-up.html?src=dayp&_r=0
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Joe T » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:05 pm

Ugly and messy but delicious and convenient ... especially for parents. With the right table setting and presentation, it is possible to make it look nice, but still home style. After all, ground beef and macaroni with tomatoes is just a simplified version of pasta with puttanesca sauce.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:14 pm

Joe T wrote:Ugly and messy but delicious and convenient ... especially for parents. With the right table setting and presentation, it is possible to make it look nice, but still home style. After all, ground beef and macaroni with tomatoes is just a simplified version of pasta with puttanesca sauce.


Do you have kids at home, Joe? I didn't raise children myself, but I do remember being a child and being one that, and I know this is fairly typical, liked my food pretty separate. Would think for a lot of kids casserole food would be a hard sell. At family dinners when the food was passed, I'd move everything to the outer edges of the plate to make absolutely certain nothing ran into anything else--in fact, I adored TV dinners just because of the compartments! Combo foods like casseroles were pretty much out of the question for me then. Wouldn't even eat hamburgers or sandwiches (meat+bread+salad--didn't work for me). Did love tacos, though!
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:35 pm

Kids can be so complex with their likes and dislikes of food. We are lucky that ours were good eaters. I think they had to be, we were always too busy running around with their activities to worry about fussy eaters, and we had to give them healthy foods because they were involved. I had a competition skater, three swimmers, 1 in basket ball, one in tennis, all three water skied, and snow skied. We all loved casseroles, and most of the ones I made were from scratch ingredients. Great dishes that could be made in the morning and popped into the oven when we all got home. Always served with a mixed green salad, and a veggie. We made a killer enchilada pie that was always a hit, no matter where I took it or who I served it to. Anymore, we rarely have it because it makes so much. We also had a Lasagna dish that was a favorite, and still is with our sons. Many of them used fun ingredients like a tuna noodle casserole with potato chips on top. It was a great one to take camping because it cooked up to a flavorful, gooey, cheesy delight on the camp stove. Lots of memories with food, all related around family activities...wonderful times.
Every now and them we make one of those wonderful casseroles...so good, I eat it for dinner, lunch and breakfast. Oh, and I forgot about stuffed cabbage rolls. Now that is the king of one pot meals for me. Lots of sauerkraut, which we bought in giant jars from a place in the Pacific Northwest. That tangy flavor from the sauerkraut permeated every ingredient of that dish. :D I must make a few of these before our hot weather sets in!
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Joe T » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:24 pm

Jenise wrote:
Joe T wrote:Ugly and messy but delicious and convenient ... especially for parents. With the right table setting and presentation, it is possible to make it look nice, but still home style. After all, ground beef and macaroni with tomatoes is just a simplified version of pasta with puttanesca sauce.


Do you have kids at home, Joe? I didn't raise children myself, but I do remember being a child and being one that, and I know this is fairly typical, liked my food pretty separate. Would think for a lot of kids casserole food would be a hard sell. At family dinners when the food was passed, I'd move everything to the outer edges of the plate to make absolutely certain nothing ran into anything else--in fact, I adored TV dinners just because of the compartments! Combo foods like casseroles were pretty much out of the question for me then. Wouldn't even eat hamburgers or sandwiches (meat+bread+salad--didn't work for me). Did love tacos, though!


Every kid has their quirks, but I've been lucky so far. We do however limit the canned soup bases of our youth.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:29 pm

I always liked casseroles when I was a kid and continue to like them now. My kids also have always liked them. Neither of them are particularly picky eaters, though (at least not unless it's Lent), so that helps.

The image problem obviously has to do with the less-than-stellar casseroles pushed by the makers of canned soup and such. When you say "casserole", that's what most Americans think of and not baked ziti or cassoulet. Personally, I can't imagine any human possessed of a tongue who would not like cassoulet.

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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Karen/NoCA » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:07 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:I always liked casseroles when I was a kid and continue to like them now. My kids also have always liked them. Neither of them are particularly picky eaters, though (at least not unless it's Lent), so that helps.

The image problem obviously has to do with the less-than-stellar casseroles pushed by the makers of canned soup and such. When you say "casserole", that's what most Americans think of and not baked ziti or cassoulet. Personally, I can't imagine any human possessed of a tongue who would not like cassoulet.

I agree. Which is why many use the term "one pot meal" now, which for the morst part, are never just one pot. I looked through a book called One Pot Meals, and most of them used too many pots for my liking. All the food ended up in another pot for the oven.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:20 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:I always liked casseroles when I was a kid and continue to like them now. My kids also have always liked them. Neither of them are particularly picky eaters, though (at least not unless it's Lent), so that helps.

The image problem obviously has to do with the less-than-stellar casseroles pushed by the makers of canned soup and such. When you say "casserole", that's what most Americans think of and not baked ziti or cassoulet. Personally, I can't imagine any human possessed of a tongue who would not like cassoulet.


Or paella, or lasagna.... There are so many ways to make and enjoy beautifully layered and combined foods.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Hoke » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:16 pm

I liked casseroles too. If nothing else, it made canned tuna---the cheap brands you buy when you're poor or in college (but I repeat myself)---edible, and gave much more leeway to imprecise or overwhelmed cooks.

My first wife used to make a casserole of spicy-hot pork sausage patties, potatoes, onions and creamed corn that was tasty, easy, and satisfied both adults and kids sufficiently. And it was cheap.

And, yes, Campbell's mushroom soup concentrate was a frequently used base in casseroles.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:04 pm

All of a sudden I'm dying for a tuna-noodle casserole. With a good bottle of burgundy.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Joe T » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:50 pm

If you wanted to class up that plain old casserole, you can layer fresh pasta with tuna (canned is fine), a ricotta and cheddar mixture with a creamy mushroom sauce using a Béchamel base.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:56 pm

Jenise wrote:All of a sudden I'm dying for a tuna-noodle casserole. With a good bottle of burgundy.

With potato chips on top?

There was also, a chicken noodle casserole that was very popular, and I cannot recall the name of it. It was made with salsa and you made it one day ahead....it was so good. Before Gene and I were married, we had plans to go camping and water skiing in Redding for the weekend. We were meeting a bunch of friends at the lake. I made this casserole for him to take over and we would have it, the next day when I arrived. Everyone wanted it the first night and he was not sure it would feed the entire group, so one of the girls added a bunch of hot dogs to it. I was so mad! Not only did they eat what I wanted to eat, but they added those horrible things, that I never even put into my mouth. Married him anyway. :D
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:22 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:Married him anyway. :D

Folks, we have a wiener! :D
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:15 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:With potato chips on top?
No, probably bread crumbs. Mind you, potato chips are an excellent topping and I wouldn't knock them--but potato chips are the one food it's not save for me to have around, so I wouldn't risk having the rest of the bag to dispose of! I know where it would go!
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:42 pm

We probably all eat casseroles two or three times a week and just give them different names like Lasagna.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Jenise » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:06 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:We probably all eat casseroles two or three times a week and just give them different names like Lasagna.


Very true. One could also stretch it to qualify for the description 'terrine', though in fact it's not released from the mold and cut.
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby GeoCWeyer » Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:50 pm

In the Minnesota of the 1940's & 50's "Casseroles" were the dishes that were used to make "hot dishes".
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Re: "Casseroles have an image problem."

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:29 pm

The famous French cassoulet is a casserole, isn't it?

It's like meat loaf, which is the poor country cousin of pate.

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