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Old 10-24-2010, 02:54 PM   #1
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I'm a bit of a beginner to cooking and I like doing casseroles as they're easy and quick to prepare but I'm looking for tips to improve. I usually use steak or pork and chicken or beef gravy and throw in whatever veg is available, usually mushrooms, onions, carrotts, garlic etc. but sometimes the gravy overpowers the rest of the flavours and sometimes the veg at the top gets overdone. When is the best time to season and to throw the veg in and what's the best way to get the meat nice and tender, I don't usually bother browning it. Also, I usually cook it for about 90-120 mins on about 150-180, any guidelines on that? Thanks


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Old 10-24-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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Casseroles are usually made with cooked meats. If you use raw meat, the veggies and starch will be overcooked by the time the meat is done. In addition, by skipping the browning step, you give up a lot of flavor.

To keep the veggie from drying out and to speed up cooking, cook the casserole covered either with a lid or foil. If browning on the top is part of the deal, take the cover off for the last 10-15 minutes or so.

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Old 10-24-2010, 03:29 PM   #3
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I make a lot of casseroles and one dish meals. I can't think of a casserole that I make using raw ingredients. For instance:

I'll boil one or two chicken thighs in onion soup (mix). Take out the chicken and cool. Bring the soup mix back to a boil, adding water and salt if necessary and use that to boil egg noodles along with a half cup of mixed vegetables.

When the chicken has cooled enough, strip from the bones and cut into bite size pieces.

When the noodles and vegetables are done, strain over a bowl so as to save the liquid for an excellent stock. I usually freeze this for gravy liquid or the base for cooking dried beans. Lots of flavor.

Add the chicken, noodles and vegetables to a casserole dish and add a can of cream of whatever soup. If you add cheese, you can mix it in and you won't need a topping, or top with breadcrumbs, whatever.

Bake the casserole at 350 for 30 minutes or so until it is bubbly and the top has some crustiness.

The list of ingredients you mentioned would work wonderfully layered in a crock pot. No matter what you put in or how long it takes to cook, all will be done in the end without a lot of effort as to times and temperature. Just load it up, go to work and dinner's all ready when you get home. If you just cook it all in just a little water and seasonings, you can start your gravy from those juices, instead of adding the gravy first.

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Old 10-24-2010, 03:40 PM   #4
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I, too, cannot think of but one casserole I make with raw meat. That's one that is a Campbell's soup recipe that you put the boneless, skinless chicken breast portions in before baking (their website has several versions of this). But almost any other thing I make uses leftover meat, or you brown it first (more flavor, better color). Smoked meats, especially ham, really work well in casseroles if you don't have the time to mess with browning. Also (for us Catholics who remember Friday meals in the sixties), tuna! Topping with bread crumbs, crumbled potato chips, canned fried onions, etc, then upping the temp to high (or broil) for a minute or two at the end adds to the texture and color.

Oh, I can't resist asking, for those from the upper Midwest (and I know there are several of you out there), chime in with your favorite Hot Dish!
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:44 PM   #5
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My favorite (and go to) uses italian sausage (browned), spaghetti sauce, rigatoni (or penne) pasta and mozzarella cheese. Mix together, add some cheese to the top and bake for 40'ish minutes.
Zhizara, I love the idea of boiling the chicken in onion soup mix!
Claire, what is your go-to casserole?
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
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no raw meat in mine either. tuna casserole is my favorite
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:49 PM   #7
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Tuna-Noodle Casserole made with cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup with french-fried onions on top.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:52 PM   #8
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When I make a casserole I always brown any meat thoroughly before consigning it to the pot. I adjust the seasoning then, just a little salt and pepper, but fully adjust it later as the meat and veg continue cooking through. I rarely sprinkle salt on raw meat as salt leeches out the juices.

My late Mother said never to put raw meat in casseroles for obvious health reasons. Browning meat always imprioves the flavour along with any meat stock. I don't have the time I'd like to make stock, chicken, beef or lamb so I'll buy a few packets of Knorr ready made, or use some Marigold boullion powder diluted in water to add. Also a splosh of wine. And don't be afraid to add a sachet of Schwartz casserole mix to flavour it up, if you want.

Casseroles are heartwarming, deeply comforting and are best eaten the day after. The flavour will have greatly improved. Lovely!

One device I've been using for ages now is my Prestige A La Carte electric non-stick multi-cooker. Teflon-coated, it's super easy to use, the 'cooker easy to clean, and very economical to run. And good value, too.
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Old 10-24-2010, 04:05 PM   #9
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I guess you'd call them one dish meals rather than casseroles, but I frequently put uncooked meat...chicken pieces, portions sized pieces of round steak or pork chops...in a casserole dish with vegetables and various types of seasoning and liquids. Try using one or more of the following: packet of dry Italian dressing mix, ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, onion soup mix, a good Cajun seasoning like Emeril's or Tony Chacherie's, or your own herbs and spices...a can of reduced fat cream of mushroom or chicken soup, chicken or beef broth, tomato sauce.
Don't add extra salt when using prepared soups or seasonings, as they usually already have salt.

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