...*a glimse into the daily life of a chef*...

...this blog is a place for me to record and reflect the passion that i put into my everyday life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LeT me SeE YoUr Casserole***

...to the left to the left, to right to the right....now dip?

ok now that i have that out of my system lets talk good ol' Midwestern casserole...I love these wonders. They can be made ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, some even frozen and served at a later date. its a process of deciding what goes in it and what tops it. so here we go with a few of my favorites!

#1) Shepard's Pie

this is a combination of ground meats, onions, carrots, celery, peas (and if i make a few other goodies) that is then topped with mashed potatoes, sound good? i think so!

the ALY version:
Start with 1# ground beef 
(traditionally if you wanted you would use beef and lamb- 
or you could use ground turkey to cut the fat...its really flexible so play around with it!)
1 lg. white onion diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
8 button mushroom, chopped
(or use 1 portobello cap, or same amount of favorite small mushroom)
1 red pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 springs fresh thyme
start by browning your beef in the bottom of the pan, when begins to brown add mushrooms, garlic and onions, then drain excess fat after meat is all cook through. 
Then add remain veggies and roast for a few minutes, then deglaze with red wine maybe one turn around the pan, then add 1 sm. can of tomato paste and 3 T flour.  stir around and brown the tomato paste a bit and get the flour totally coated.
then add in 1 can of diced tomatoes and beef stock to just below being covered
 let this cook until veggies are tender and sauce is thick, 
if need be thicken with a slurry to make it a nice gravy consistancy. 

In a separate pot you will need to be boiling 4 russet potatoes 
and i also like to add in 2 sweet potatoes for a little twist.
You will boil these until tender and mashable.
Mash then up with some cream cheese or sour cream 
and 2 c. cheddar cheese
garlic salt and pepper to taste

When the beef mixture is ready pour it in a baking dish that will be 
deep enough for you to add in a nice layer of mashed potatoes.
i like to sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the tomatoes, but that is just me.
so just layer the mashed on top of the beef mixture then bake at 400 till the top is golden brown.

if you live alone or are making it just for two or what not try this:
make the casserole in personal sized baking tin, you can buy at the store the small ones for like chicken pot pies, so make it in those an freeze them so you can heat them up for a quick fix meal!

#2)Pot Pie
***with this basic recipe you can make it any pot pie you want,
chicken, veggie, beef, sausage...***

I'm a chicken pot pie kinda girl, so that is where we will start:

start by cooking 2 lg or 4 small chicken breasts (whole) in the bottom of your pan w/ 3 T oil
You will want to cook them on a medium high temp
they will stick, and leave a brown substance on the bottom of the pan
just don't let it burn, this is the yummy flavor.
when the chicken is fully cooked, remove it and let it cool
(when cool dice it up to add back in later)
after removing chicken
2 T oil
1 lg. white onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery diced
1 c. peas
1 c. corn
1 lg. idaho potato, diced

now add whatever veggies you like:
I like to add
butternut squash
red peppers
sweet potato
but add whatever you like, or whatever you have

then deglaze with 1 1/2 c. white wine
add 1/2 c. of flour
2 T. butter
salt & pepper

add back in the diced chicken & just cover with chicken stock
I then like to add a few T of cream just for richness

when the veggies are all cooked and the sauce is thick
you are ready to turn it off and prepare the crust.

(be careful this is a simple dough, and easy to ruin....read carefully and let your hands tell you what is going on, doughs are tough if you don't know what they should look and feel like. In pie crust you will have little chunks of butter, that's ok. once the dough is come together, STOP do not over work it! 
if you don't feel ready to make it, just buy it...or use frozen puffed pastry instead...
or top it will flattened out crescent dough )

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup water 
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in food processor. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 8 to 10 seconds. For hand method, place dry ingredients in large bowl. Add butter; blend with pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Add ice water in a slow steady stream through feed tube of food processor with machine running, until the dough holds together for no longer than 30 seconds. For hand method, mix dough with a wooden spoon, adding water until dough just holds together.

3. Turn dough onto piece of plastic wrap. Press into flat circle, or rectangle depending on what shape you intend to roll out pastry to. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. May be frozen, double wrapped in plastic, for several months.
for the pot pie you will need atleast 2x the recipe if not maybe 3 
I like to cover the bottom of the dish and finish with a layer on top,
but if you just do the top you will only need 1x.

to finish your pot pie:
you will need a baking dish,
butter and flour the inside
then lay a layer of pie dough
tuck it into the corners
then pour in your filling
then layer the dough on top, 
make sure to make a few air holes
bake at 350 till the crust is done and the inside is bubbling!

***note: if you use puff pastry just put it on top, you can put it in the inside, but i have never tried it...
it may bake just the same as pie dough, but i'm not sure!***

#3) Hamburger Casserole
**this holds a special place in my heart 
after begin fed to us for school lunches and served at home as a child...
its good, but it needs a 2010 Aly twist**

Start with 1# ground beef
and brown it in a pan with:
1 lg diced white onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg of button mushrooms, chopped
1 portobello, chopped
when fully browned and mushrooms are cooked
about 3 c of green beans cut into 1" pieces
(some places you can find them frozen this size you will need 1 bag.)
1/4 c. flour 
(you may also need a bit of oil or butter to coat flour)
brown this slightly 
then deglaze with
1 1/2 c white wine
then put in 
2 c heavy cream
and 1/2 c water
stir until thickened
then pour into a baking dish
season with salt & pepper
Now traditionally you would use cream of mushroom soup
and then top it with tator tots, which I'm not going to tell you NOT to do, because personally i LOVE tator tots, but i think we could come up with a fancier version, 
but if you want to go retro, 

take a potato and cut it as thinly as you can, you will want to make 2 or 3 layers of potatoes on top of your casserole, you will need to rub them with butter and season them with salt and pepper, you could also mince some garlic and put it between the layers of potatoes to get a roasted garlic taste. also you could add in some parmesan cheese so them will bake up nice and golden brown
Then bake at 400 till the potatoes are tender and golden brown
then perhaps top with some french fried onions that is tossed with some fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and chives or even arugula to make a little salad on top with a lemon and olives oil vinaigrette....
seems a little more chic to me...

there you have it, the classic hamburger casserole REMIX!

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