Jan 7, 2013

Casserole Week - All about Casseroles

Welcome to the casserole week! This week on Tasteandflavours, we’ll be posting only casserole dishes to help you save time! Yes, casseroles are delicious main dishes and take the least time. You can make the preparations in 10-15 mins, and leave the rest for the oven! The 2 recipes posted earlier are of oven baked casseroles, and soon I’ll post the hotpot or the stove top made casseroles as well. Hope you enjoy the week!

Firstly, where did casserole originate? Probably in the kitchen of some busy lady!
A casserole, from the French word for "saucepan" is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan. In British English, this type of dish is frequently also called a bake, coinciding with the cooking technique used to cook casseroles. In Minnesota, this type of dish is sometimes called "hotdish".

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 or cheesy topping.Liquids are released from the meat and vegetables during cooking, and further liquid in the form of stock, wine, beer (for example lapin à la Gueuze), gin, cider, or vegetable juice may be added when the dish is assembled. Casseroles are usually 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, tajine, moussaka, lasagne, shepherd's pie, gratin, rice or macaroni timballo, 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 stove), whereas casserole cooking is generally done in an oven to bake where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel. Casseroles may be cooked covered or uncovered, while braises are typically covered to prevent evaporation.

Difference between Casserole and Stew
Essentially, as a cooking method there is little difference between them. A casserole is the name of the pot used for cooking and slowly has become known as the cooking method as well. Purist insist a casserole is placed in the oven and a stew on the stove top/hob, however the two are totally interchangeable. Whichever term you choose, both consist of meat and-or vegetables, cooked slowly over a long period of time making it ideal for cheaper cuts of meat.

The 9x13-inch rectangular casserole pan is by far the most called-for dish in casserole cookery, followed closely by the 8x8 (or 9x9) square dishes. (The 9x13 also holds about 3 quarts of volume, so in some recipes it can be used interchangeably with a 3 quart Dutch oven.


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