Reinventing the Casserole with the Casserole Queens Slideshow
October 22, 2012
Three Dishes to Consider with Casseroles
The beauty of the casserole dish is its variety — not just the ingredients you fill it with, but the shape, size, color, or pattern of the dish. With so many fun hues, sizes, and shapes, even on the busiest of occasions or the laziest of days, placing your meal in a sunny container can change your entire mood. Here are three dishes to consider when making your casserole:
- Glass — a no fuss and inexpensive way to serve up a meal that is great for freezing and cleanup.
- Porcelain — for the entertainer who’s looking for an array of color and sizes to impress their guests.
- Dutch Ovens — for the traditionalist, offering a stove to oven solution that’s gourmet as well.
How to Make a Roux
A roux is an absolute must when it comes to casseroles, and is a staple in the Casserole Queens’ kitchen. The base of so many great things such as gravy, béchamel sauce, and cheese sauces, a roux is easily created with a two-ingredient recipe. Here's how the Casserole Queens make a basic roux:
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Melt the butter, then slowly whisk in the flour. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. The roux will thicken into a paste. Remove from heat and allow to cool. You can refrigerate or freeze any leftover roux for future use.
When ready to use, bring roux to room temperature before using. Heat 4 tablespoons of roux to 1 cup of milk in a medium saucepan and cook until it thickens
The Best Cheeses to Use in Your Casserole
The Queens are always looking for ways to work in cheese into their casseroles, and while the ideas may be many, there’s only a handful they go back to time and time again.
Gruyère: The creamy and nutty essence of Gruyère makes everything better without overpowering the dish, the Queens believe. For a lighter flavor, they suggest using a younger Gruyère, where an older one will have a much deeper and stronger flavor. Great for any fondue or cheese sauce recipe, Gruyère is also best paired with a smoother, silkier cheese because it is a very dry one.
Fontina: Otherwise known as Italian cow's milk cheese, Fontina is mild and nutty and melts really well. This cheese is perfect for omelettes and egg dishes, as well as cheese sauces.
Gouda: Gouda is a cow's milk cheese that has a creamy and buttery texture. Delicious in cheese sauces and as a nacho topping, it is the star of many of the Queens’ best-selling casseroles.
Jalapeño Bacon Mac and Cheese
For those of you who are constantly looking to spruce up your mac and cheese, this recipe calls for two no-fail ingredients: jalapeño and bacon. That’s not only our favorite part, though, because we’re pretty sure this is the first version we’ve seen with Boursin cheese in the noodle casserole.
Adding Layers and Texture to Your Casserole
The Queens' favorite way to add an amazing layer of crunch to any casserole is with a topping. One cup of store-bought breadcrumbs can be combined with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and cooked on top of your favorite casserole for a way to add a topping. Along with typical breadcrumbs, the Queens suggest crushing up potato chips and layering them on top for an extra burst of flavor.
Taking Full Advantage of Your Freezer
If you’re prepping for an upcoming event or simply cooking for one, casseroles are a great solution because they can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer. The best time to freeze a casserole is right before you would bake it, when everything is assembled but not cooked yet. The Casserole Queens suggest assembling the casserole in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil so that when it’s frozen, you can store the frozen dish in the aluminum foil, rather than wasting the baking dish. Safety tips to remember when freezing:
- Always make sure that the casserole should be completely cooled before freezing.
- Cover your casseroles with freezer-friendly products such as heavy foil or a tight-fitting lid. The Queens find that plastic wrap is not a great solution because it often sticks to the dish during the freezing process. Make sure to label your dish with contents, number of servings, and date of freezing to stay organized.
- The Queens recommend that you do not store a casserole in the freezer for longer than two months. For best results, make sure the casserole is completely thawed before baking.
Peanut Butter Banana Freezer Pie
Life wouldn’t be complete without dessert, and the Casserole Queens cover everything from soup to nuts when it comes to their recipes. This peanut butter freezer pie demonstrates that one-pot wonders can be sweet treats as well.