“Wow! Great Casserole” Recipe: A health food for your pocketbook

Patrick Lalande on WordPress

Just one more recipe post promised to a for a few close friends.  It was also written with the pure neophyte in mind.  It’s just not a recipe but also a ”cookipe”.  It will expand the diet of those who will make it.  Someday I’ll explain why I do this.   

The gist of this very forgiving recipe is, that it will feed an army, is reasonably inexpensive, easy to prepare (in the time it takes to boil noodles), and has never had a single complaint to anyone it was served. 

“Wow!  Great Casserole” Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 cups or more Wide Egg Noodles (Cooked al Dente -firm to teeth)
  • 2 cups pre-cooked Meat (chicken, pork, beef) chopped to small bite-size) Ham, chicken, and sausage also works well.
  • 1 or more Tablespoons Olive Oil or Butter to Sauté
  • 1 cup Sweet Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow, Orange)
  • 1 medium to large sweet onion
  • One to two cloves Garlic minced (MOLTT) (More OR Less To Taste) (chopped fine – I use jarred garlic for convenience but fresh tastes better)
  • 3 small cans Button Mushroom stems and pieces
  • 3 cans Cream-of-Mushroom soup (or Chicken gravy base, or even Pork Gravy base works here)
  • If desired 1 can of cream of mushroom soup or the evaporated milk can be substituted with 8 to 16 oz of cream cheese or 1 cup of sour cream. This adds creaminess, makes the tastes blend differently, and in the case of the sour cream adds a distinct acidic taste that melds well with the sweet of the onion.
  • 2 cans Evaporated Milk
  • 0 to 1 cup extra milk to modify thickness of sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Peppers (MOLTT)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (MOLTT)
  • 2 or more tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (MOLTT)
  • Salt and pepper (MOLTT)

Additional ingredients for making a casserole:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup Bread crumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded or grated Cheese (Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, or a mixture all work well)
  • Paprika

Cookware and utensils:

  • Large stock pot
  • Colander/Strainer to drain noodles
  • Large Sauté or Fry pan
  • Pancake turner for Vegetables
  • Spoon for noodles and combined dish
  • Large Casserole dish or 9×13 cake pan (depending on size of casserole dishes you may have enough to make several casseroles. Thick and heavy for slow cooking in the oven is best.

Additional Prep Item:

  • Spatula for removing all the soup from cans
  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife for chopping onion and peppers
  • Spoon rest – I like paper towels but a clean dish cloth works well and is easy on the environment.

Layout and pre-prep:

  • Get cooking gear in place to cook. 
  • Put the Stock pot on the stove.
  •  Get the spoon and pancake turner out. 
  • If you are going to bake in oven get out the casserole dish/dishes and set aside. 
  • Place cutting board on counter along with knife. 
  • Get cans of soup, mushrooms and evaporated milk.  Shake evaporated milk.  Open all cans.  Drain mushrooms well.
  •  Wash the vegetables. 
  • Set meat and vegetables by cutting board. 
  • Measure out all spices, bread crumbs, and cheese and set aside. 

Instructions:

Clean up as you cook. 

When your layout is complete, continue. 

Put water in stock pot to 2-3 inches from top.  Place on burner to boil.

When water starts to boil, add noodles and stir occasional until al dente.  Cooking noodles takes 10-15 minutes based on where you live and what noodles you use.  Do not overcook. 

While water heats up:

  1. Chop vegetables and meat. 
  2. Place Olive oil or butter (less is better but dry vegetables is not) in Sauté pan and heat to bubbling. 
  3. Add onions mushrooms, and peppers.  Sauté vegetables (fry over medium-high heat, 7-9 on most electric stoves) until onions turn translucent (clear but not see-through) and slightly brown.  Peppers are just along for the ride at this point. 
  4. Add meat, garlic, and heat through.  Set aside until noodles are done. 
  5. When noodles are done, remove from heat, and drain well.  Place noodles back into Stock pot. 
  6. Add evaporated milk and Cream of Mushroom soup and stir.  Return to medium heat (5-6 on an electric stove) and heat stirring frequently. 
  7. As the noodles heat, add meat and vegetables.  Stir. 
  8. Add Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, and crushed red peppers.  Stir. 
  9. When final mixture is hot and bubbly, adjust thickness of sauce (less for casserole, more thick for immediate consumption) and remove from heat. 
  10. If making casserole, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Salt and Pepper to taste.  Recipe makes 8 to 12 1-cup servings.  I tend to eat 2-3 servings per sitting as do my guests.

If making the casserole:

  1. Place mixture while still hot into casserole dish. 
  2. Mix cheese and bread crumbs well.  Sprinkle/spread mixture evenly over casserole. 
  3. Sprinkle with paprika for taste and garnish. 
  4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until cheese and bread crumbs are toasted and browned.  Approximately 30-50 minutes. 
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes so casserole can set or firm up. 
  6. Serve.  Enjoy.
  7. When cool, store leftovers tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Store tightly sealed in the freezer for up to 3 months.

This dish actually tastes better when reheated.  It microwaves well so it is an excellent dish to cook ahead of time and store.  Just don’t freeze if your noodles are over-cooked.  They will turn to mush when reheated.

Other additions or substitutions include:

  • A wide variety of vegetables, shrimp and shrimp boil seasoning minus the Worcestershire sauce and add 1/4 cup of white wine. 
  • If you want something really unique, try using country-style rib meat that has been boiled for about an hour and then browned by broiling or grilling for about 20 minutes turning frequently before chopping into bite-size pieces, replacing the button mushrooms with commercially harvested wild mushrooms or truffles, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup (MOLTT) of a red wine such as a good Port, Merlot or a Shiraz, and spice with rosemary and sage. 
  • This recipe is a great dish to experiment on because it is very forgiving and the taste is easily adjusted.  You can sauté the onions longer before you add the mushrooms and peppers.  This makes the onions sweeter.  I have gone over-board doing this.  It’s almost like adding sugar. 
  • I have also added different mustards to make the taste unique. 

History:

Originally this dish began as a recipe from a recipe booklet that Campbell’s® Soups distributed.  It just included the noodles, ham, green peppers (uncooked), evaporated milk and cream of mushroom soup.  It was very quick but plain.  I used the recipe when I was in a hurry. 

As time went by, I wanted more taste and started to include all the changes you will find in my recipe.  It became one of the best loved I prepare. 

Enjoy!

©2008 Patrick Lalande All Rights Reserved
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