Here are a few great tips to
help make your casserole making endeavors as simple as can be.
- To save time, though not necessary
money, stock up on pre-cut and peeled vegetables like carrots,
onions, and broccoli florets available in either your supermarket
produce aisle or salad bar-you'll discover they make casserole
preparation a snap.
- Because generally a casserole
takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to bake, you ought
to consider using dried herbs in dishes which require longer
cooking (more than an hour) rather than delicate fresh herbs
which tend to lose their flavor when exposed to extended periods
of high heat.
- If you desire a crisp, browned
topping, don't cover the casserole as it bakes.
- When reheating casseroles, it's
best to defrost them in the refrigerator overnight. If that isn't
possible, cover and reheat in a 350*F (175*C) oven, allowing
almost double the baking time. To test for doneness, insert a
knife or a wooden skewer in the center of the food, if it's hot
to the touch when removed trust that it's hot throughout.
- Want to make that casserole
au gratin? Simply sprinkle the assembled dish with grated cheese
and bread crumbs moistened with a little melted butter and dried
herbs if desired and continue baking until filling is cooked
and topping is melted and bubbling.
- When you don't have the specific
casserole baking dish called for in a recipe, it's best to think
big. Opt to use a pan of equal or slightly greater volume. However,
if you substitute a pan that is shallower than the one specified,
reduce the baking time by 25 percent, if the pan is deeper increase
the baking time by 25 percent.
- Unsure about the capacity of
your baking pan? Measure water and pour it in the pan to check.
- Casseroles really taste best
when made in advance. Time will allow the flavors to blossom.
- To freeze an unbaked or fully
baked casserole: begin by lining a casserole with heavy-duty
aluminum foil, leaving enough of an overhang on all sides to
cover and seal the food later. Assemble the casserole, laying
it in the lined pan and either freeze the ingredients until solid
or bake and cool to room temperature then freeze (it's not necessary
to seal it up for this short freezing time). Once the casserole
is frozen, use the excess foil overhang and seal airtight. Double
wrap the foil wrapped casserole in freezer proof plastic bags,
label, date it, then freeze until ready to use. (Meanwhile, you
can use the casserole dish for other purposes.) To thaw, remove
the wrapping and place the frozen food back into the dish in
which it was assembled or baked. Defrost and reheat or bake as
Source: Laurann Claridge, Chef
and Food Talk Columnist of the Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas