Sunday, March 29, 2009

For the Casserole Queen

Casserole....The word has a complicated history, starting with a classical Greek term for a cup (kuathos), progressing to a Latin word (cattia), which could mean both ladle and pan, then becoming an Old French word (casse...), which then became casserole...Historically, casserole cookery has been especially popular in rural homes, where a fire is in any case burning all day and every day...Although casserole is a western term, the use of cooking pots which would be called casseroles in Europe or Americas is almost universal in Asia.
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] (p. 143)

The history of the "casserole" is an interesting one. I am kind of new to the art of the casserole since I didn't grow up eating them. My mom didn't really ever make them. I attribute it to her having eaten too many tuna noodle casseroles in her mother's kitchen growing up in a household with 4 other siblings, 2 cousins and plenty of guests. Not only is a casserole a budget friendly way to feed a family, but it conjures up feelings of warmth and comfort. The other night, I was in need of comfort food to share with my family, so I decided to throw a few things together and this dish was born. It was pretty good too(if I do say so myself)! It has organic, pasture fed ground beef, potatoes, cheese, and lots of veggies. What's not to love?

Spicy Burger Tater Pie

1 lb super lean ground beef
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
10 mushrooms(I like crimini), chopped
2 cups greens, chopped(I used beet greens because that is what I had, but you could use spinach, chard, really anything you like or have on hand)
4-5 large red potatoes, sliced thinly
1 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp chili powder
2-3 pinches of crushed red pepper
1 10 oz can of reduced sodium/fat cream of mushroom soup
3/4 C. milk
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray casserole dish with pam. Slice potatoes thinly and layer in the bottom of the dish. Top with butter broken into small pieces. Lightly season with salt and pepper. In a saute pan, heat olive oil until smoking. Add in onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Then add in carrots and mushrooma and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add ground beef and sprinkle with the spices while browning. Add in greens to wilt. Salt and pepper. In a mixing bowl, combine soup and milk until smooth. Layer beef mixture over potatoes and then pour soup on top. Bake covered for 1 hour. Then, layer with cheese and bake another 20-30 min uncovered until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with a green salad. Serves MANY!

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