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Casserole (food)

Gastronomy

Casseroles usually consist of pieces of meat (such as chicken) or fish (such as tuna), various chopped vegetables, a starchy binder such as flour, potato or pasta, and, often, a crunchy topping. Liquids are released from the meat and vegetables during cooking, and further liquid in the form of stock, wine (for example coq au vin), beer (for example lapin la Gueuze), gin, cider, or vegetable juice may be added when the dish is assembled. Casseroles are cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be served as a main course or a side dish, and may be served in the vessel in which they were cooked.

Types of casserole include ragout, hotpot, cassoulet and carbonnade. A distinction can be made between casseroles and stews: stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a hob), whereas casseroling is done in an oven to bake where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel. Braising is similar to casseroling except that in braising the pieces of meat or vegetable are larger, and cooked in a smaller quantity of liquid, which is not thickened. Casseroles may be cooked covered or uncovered, while braises are typically covered to prevent evaporation.

History

The casseroles we know today are a relatively modern invention. Early 18th century casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded, pressed, and filled with a savoury mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbreads. Some time around the 1870s this sense of casserole seems to have slipped into its current sense. Cooking in earthenware containers has always been common in most nations, but the idea of casserole cooking as a one-dish meal became popular in America in the twentieth century, especially in the 1950s when new forms of lightweight metal and glassware appeared on the market. By the 1970s casseroles took on a less-than sophisticated image.

Use of term in the US and Canada

A characteristic method of preparing casserole in the United States and Canada is to use condensed soup, especially cream of mushroom soup. Examples for casseroles that can be prepared in this manner are tuna casserole (with canned tuna, cooked pasta, sometimes peas, and cream-of-mushroom soup) and green bean casserole (green beans with cream of mushroom soup, topped with french fried onions). A similar staple food, macaroni and cheese, can also be prepared as a casserole.

Casseroles are a staple at potlucks and family gatherings.

In Minnesota and the Dakotas, where they are one of the quintessential foods of the region, casseroles are called hotdish. The potato casserole Janssons frestelse is a legacy of the Scandinavian immigrants of the area.

See also

Dutch oven

Jugging

Parched grain

References

^ Online Etymology Dictionary, Entry: Casserole, retrieved October 10, 2007, from Dictionary.com

^ Yoon, Howard. “Nouveau Casseroles”. Kitchen Window, National Public Radio, March 4, 2009. Accessed 4 December 2009.

^ “Food Timeline: Casseroles”. www.foodtimeline.org. March 28, 2009. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq.html#casseroles. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 

^ a b An A of Food & Drink, John Ayto, Oxford University Press, 2002 (p. 601).

^ The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani Lebhar-Friedman, 1999 (p.59).

^ “Hotdish? You Betcha”. Gapers Block. November 20, 2008. http://gapersblock.com/drivethru/2008/11/20/hotdish_you_betcha. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Casseroles

Look up casserole in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Categories: Casserole dishes | Cooking techniques | Cookware and bakeware | French loanwords

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