is a cooking dish made out of metal or other types of oven-proof material. A casserole is usually fitted with a lid, but there are some no-cover casseroles too. These dishes are designed to endure long slow cooking in the oven, and many are pretty enough to be used as serving dishes. Casseroles are very stylish nowadays, especially that the rustic and country looks are very in at the moment. They are also a food photography favourite when shot right.
The name Casserole is also used to refer to the foods cooked in a casserole dish.
Examples are: chicken casserole, casseroled duck breasts with mandarin and blueberries, Slow cooked leg of lamb casserole…etc
Casserole dishes are also great when used to prepare bakes like pastas, rice bakes or vegetable bakes. So think of making and serving Lasagna, gratins, and ragouts out of a casserole.
In classic French cookery a casserole is a concoction generally made with cooked rice moulded into the casserole shape and is usually filled with mousses, minced meats, game purees…etc
Casseroles are really your busy day’s best friend,
as they can be prepped real quick – as well as ahead of time if desired- and then put in the oven for a long slow cooking treat. This slow cooking process produces the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth type of meats. As gentle cooking in a moderate oven will cook tough meat fibres making them tender. the vegetables will also be tender and the whole product will be drenched with the flavours and aromas of all the ingredients used, as they have had ample time to mingle and give their essences throughout the cooking process.
In general a quick saute, or browning of the main ingredients will be responsible for a browner sauce base. Which in turn produces a deeper flavour and a denser feel on the palate. If you put the ingredients as they are without browning them, the sauce tends to be lighter in colour and slightly shallower in flavour. The idea is to add chopped vegetables, meats (if using), a sauce of some sort (liquid), Flavourings (spices, herbs and seasoning)…etc. Cover all and leave to cook in a moderate oven for 3-5 hours sometimes longer, depending what you are cooking. Finally, you can either serve a casserole with mash, baked or roasted potatoes. Otherwise you can serve it with rice or any variety of artisanal breads.
The combinations are endless. You can use any combination of vegetables, fruits, meats, carbs, sauce bases…etc. You can even base your choice on what items you have available at home! This is convenient home-cooking at its best. Your choices can also be healthy and you will be doing your family a favour. Take my word for it, Casserole cooking can never go wrong and it always turn out fabulous, so give it a try.
My Take on Casseroles
My first introduction to slow cooking comes from back in the day. My Grandmother was the family’s famous slow cooking enthusiast! Whatever she cooked always stayed on the burner or in the oven for no less than the whole morning up until lunch is ready to be served!! She would prepare everything early in the morning, then cook on low heat (the lowest heat literally) until it was time for lunch. Her philosophy is: “Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and leave to cook until you are ready to eat or the food is totally done”.
Every recipe I ever took from her and many of my mum’s follow the same simple rule! I have to say that these slow cooked recipes are by far the best ever food you will ever have! Whenever I cook my food that way, it turns out Fabulous. Now, I even have many of my own recipes that I would not cook any other way. Amongst my friends and family these recipes are throned “The Best Ever”. I now strongly believe that some food should not be cooked any other way.
Here is the thing with cooking.
I believe, and always say to anyone listening that patience is one of the most important ingredients of cooking. You cannot rush food, when you do, you will end up with an undercooked or no-flavour end product (rushed food). You need to give food its time for it to give you back with its goodness, qualities and characteristics.
As such, slow cooking is a live demonstration of the results of patience in cooking. The product is always better when slow cooked. The toughness is gone, the meat is tenderised, the goodness (flavours) get slowly developed, concentrated and distributed better and the overall result is a melt-in-your-mouth symphony of full bodied, well developed flavours.
“Home-made is best”.
I totally recommend you get in the habit of making your own stock. Do not rely on ready made, supermarket bought stocks. And please do not go for bought stock cubes! Not only does home-made stock make all the difference in flavour, it is way healthier than all that ready made stuff, which is full of MSG, fats, sodium and preservatives! Relying on ready stocks and stock cubes, says nothing about your skills as a cook! It is very simple to make stock and so much better too.
You will also like these casserole recipes so give them a try:
Let’s chat –
You know how there are these beautiful casserole dishes that come in different sizes including the one-portion, small and utterly cute ones? They come in different colours and shapes, and while we all love to have all of them, and we all love how beautiful the different colours look in food photos, but at home we have to choose the few pieces that we want to keep timelessly for ever!! Would you go for the different colours, or are you a fan of the classic colours? What would you choose for your home? I was chatting with a group of home cooks the other day and this stirred up quite the discussion (style wise) and thought to see if you too felt strongly about the colours of your pots and casseroles! :)) so let me know..