Cooking Louisiana - Casserole

Today the word "Casserole" is used to describe a cooking method or the dish (container) used to make a casserole. The word itself seems to have been an English adaptation of the old French word "Casse" which meant ladle or dish with the English addition of "role" which simply means to "take the form or likings of". In today's Parisian French the word "Casse" means break. So to drop your glass casserole dish may render it "Casse'd" (Cah-say'd). Laugh, that was supposed to be funny. When any of our Cajun folk have had too much to drink that's one word we use to describe their condition.

Early history has it that the Casserole took on the form of a dish in which multiple ingredients were combined and cooked in an oven in a clay pot. The method would provide an "all in one" meal in many instances and would consist of a meat combined with a filler such as rice. 

In the 20's and 30's when money was tight the casserole was a way to stretch leftovers much as a soup did. It was also a great method of using somewhat bland vegetables like squash and potatoes and blending meat flavors to develop a delicious and filling meal; filling being the most important. 

In the 1950's it was popular because it would free the housewife from lengthy "stove standing" and would allow her to tend to the house duties and still prepare the family's meal. The availability of newly introduced glassware made it even more of a delight.

The casserole is still popular now in the south especially since we cling to old ways and stretching food is just a smart thing to do. Besides that, how can you go wrong with a crab meat and eggplant casserole? 

In short, the casserole begins with a base or meat. That meat can be pork, beef, wild game, fish or shell fish. Next it involves the filler which can be rice, bread, pasta, potatoes and most any of the squashes. Casseroles can lean to the sweet or savory styles and  just depends on what your base ingredients are going to be.

If you're not much of a casserole chef do yourself a favor and research some of the great casserole combinations out there. 

If you want to learn more about the history of casseroles you can check this website out.

The Food Timeline

 

 

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