Friday, January 09, 2009

CULINARY RANT

It's been awhile since I've ranted. Hasn't it? Well, except for the Rams. And that wasn't so much a rant as an outburst. Because, well, come on. That was a pathetic season.

But that's not today's topic.

Today's topic is the American Casserole, or what I'm beginning to refer to as "One-Dish Heart Attack." Canned soups, and canned ingredients of many kinds, seem to be the required ingredients. At some point in time, was legislation passed that all casseroles in the United States MUST include at least one condensed "cream of" soup? And that you get extra points for multiple cans of soup? Campbells obviously has one big lobby. Most casserole recipes I've read in the last several days included more than one can of "cream of" soup. Based on the recipes I've read, I have come up with a dish I will call "Southwest Chicken One-Dish Heart Attack Casserole".


Two cans cooked chicken cubes
one can of cream of chicken soup
one can of cream of mushroom soup
one can of cream of celery soup
one can of corn; drained
one can of Rotelle tomatoes
one can of button mushrooms, drained;
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
one 8 oz block of velveeta cheese
one pound elbow macaroni; uncooked
buttered bread crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup of that parmesan cheese crap that comes in that skinny green can
one package of tortilla chips.
Don't even think of using salt because there's enough sodium in this already to cause you to stroke out.

Mix together all ingredients except for the tortilla chips. Place in well buttered casserole dish (because this dish just screams for more fat). Sprinkle with bread crumbs/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour or until the ingredients start to ooze to the surface. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top and bake another 5 minutes. Serve with a side of Lipitor. NOTE: This recipe has not been kitchen tested, and probably shouldn't be.

I am in search of a GOOD casserole recipe for a church event and am desirous of one that has fresh ingredients. So far, I'm finding recipes featuring canned and gloopy stuff. Ingredients that would make Paula Dean's diamonds sparkle with excitement and are worthy of one of Sandra Lee's cocktails served on one of her horrendous tablescapes.

Nearly desperate, I started searching cassoulets, knowing how the French abhor canned anything. MUCH better. And really fairly easy. I just need to find a duck.

So why is it that so many people seem to think that opening a can of this and throwing it in with a can of that is easier than chopping a couple of ingredients and adding to a bechamel sauce and topping with grated gruyere cheese? The term "Bechamel sauce" may sound intimidating, but it is merely a white sauce made by adding scalded milk to a roux made of flour and butter. I use skimmed milk and the amount of butter for a casserole serving 8 is minimal. A couple of years ago, my mom mentioned how much she likes my green bean casserole. My sister asked what I did that made it special. Mom said that I made it from scratch. Sis paused and blinked and said, "Isn't it already a scratch recipe?"

THAT'S what I'm getting at! Opening cans instead of thawing out a Swanson dish is NOT making something from scratch. (I must be fair and point out that my sister makes her own greeting cards. I don't. I cook from scratch, she does greeting cards from scratch. Different strokes)

I am going to make the cassoulet for a family dinner; but for the church event, I'm going to make a chicken and rice casserole that features the dreaded canned gloop; BUT! BUT -- I will be substituting a bechamel sauce kicked up with cayenne pepper and nutmeg for the gloop and will be using all fresh ingredients; just to show that it can be done. And that my garbage can won't fill up as fast as it would using all of that canned crap.

Interestingly, one of the cassoulets I found was a recipe called "Easy Cassoulet Casserole". I suppose it's served with a cup of chai tea.

But that's a rant for another day.

9 comments:

insomniac said...

if you throw in those canned fried oniony things in your first casserole, i'm sold!

Susan said...

I think it is the bechamel that throws people off. Not that there is anything difficult about one.

I got several casseroles lately, and all of them had a canned soup in them. Quick and easy, yes, healthy, no.

I have seen recipes various places for making a basic "cream of whatever" soup...but the white/bechamel sauce is much easier.

And my mother and I love your green bean casserole recipe. I just need to figure out how to cut it down a bit...it makes waaaay too much for two people.

Trillian said...

I love your green bean casserole, too. I made it for Christmas last year. My sister complained about the mushrooms and about the bell peppers and didn't consider it to be proper green bean casserole. *sigh* she eats healthily the rest of the year, though.

Leetie said...

Here's my untested recipe for a can of cream of mushroom soup: Cook a cup of mushrooms in at least 1 stick of butter, maybe with a little garlic. Add a proportionate amount of flour to make a thick, pasty roux. Add probably no more than a cup of stock, salt and pepper, maybe a little dry sherry and some cream. Bingo. Thick, mushroomy globness.

Let me know how it goes. ;)

Jenni said...

How about a breakfast casserole?!?!?

Slyeyes said...

Trillian, your sister prefers the mushrooms in the canned cream of mushroom soup in the "traditional gb casserole? They are like plastic.

Susan, I made the casserole once by cutting the amount of ingredients in half and it worked fine.

Jenni, even the two breakfast casseroles I have use the dreaded condensed soups. I tell you, it's apparently in the Constitution.

Slyeyes said...

Leetie, I'll just try the sherry!

Trillian said...

she doesn't like mushrooms at all. when she makes it, she'll use one of the other cream ofs.

soup in a breakfast casserole? that seems to defy logic.

Jenni said...

That breakfast casserole I made over Labor Day weekend didn't have any soup in it. It just used milk and eggs to hold everything together. It was quite yummy, too. I got it out of my BH&G cookbook, I think.