Ah, the Midwestern food group that is a casserole. The staple of any weekday dinner and Lutheran church gathering. Always right next to the jello squares. I will forego the state debate of casserole vs hot dish because that’s terribly off topic and because it’s casserole, you heathens. So says Wikipedia.
A casserole (French: diminutive of casse, from Provençal cassa “pan”) is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan.
Saying casserole now makes me increasingly cultured.
There are many appealing parts to a classic casserole, a few among them being its ability to feed a small army and yet produce bountiful leftovers. You can nuke a casserole within an edge of its life and it tastes fresh out of the oven. AND a casserole is a Houdini for hiding vegetables in. Well, semi-hidden. Generally under a thick layer of butter and cheese. But the nutritional value is still there, right?
This is just one of many casseroles I’ve sampled over my lifetime and is easily one of my favorites. There are many satisfying memories and meals made circled around a casserole dish in the center of the dinner table with baked potatoes and vats of butter. And apparently, I’m not alone. My grandma marked this recipe as “One of your mom’s favorite dishes.” A tradition continues.
2 10 oz. packages of frozen chopped broccoli
1/2 cup mayo or salad dressing (commonly known outside my family as Miracle Whip ((we like the tangy zip of Miracle Whip))
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup of fine bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese (eating some straight from the package, if you’re me)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Put the broccoli in the bottom of the pan. Layer on the *cooked chicken. Mix soup, mayo, lemon juice together and spread over the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
*My method for cooking the chicken: Use a crock-pot. Thaw chicken, add a small bit of water or chicken stock, salt and pepper and let the chicken pretend its at the sauna. I like to do mine overnight, so I feel even more productive in my non-waking hours.
Don’t expect a thick slice of tangy chicken-y goodness from this dish. After it finishes toasting in the Tuscan oven sun, it’s probably less than an inch thick and doesn’t hold its shape well on the plate. When I say plop it on the plate, that’s literally what you’ll need to do. Casseroles don’t hold their shiznit together when confronted with a hangry table (not that I can blame them), so don’t expect a fully Instagramable meal. DO expect a happy stomach and second helpings, because if there’s one thing a casserole can do, it provides a satisfied tummy and table.
This is just the first installment in the my Case for Casserole, a cause I’m suddenly very passionate about. The poor dish has dealt with enough scrutiny and is ready to rise above the uppity diners who turn their noses at these deep dishes that are serving up smiles across continents.
Share your favorite casserole recipes here and enjoy even more deep dishes! I’d love hear your favorites and if anyone can share why their family calls a casserole a hot dish. Time to make your case, Minnesota.