Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Re working Casseroles
One of the most simplest, and sadly, the most boring, is the casserole.Maybe because it has been denigrated to be nothing more than a mix of canned soup and awful ingredients or whether ,we've just made too many of them in the last century, this easy and versatile baked dish has become a culinary joke.All that is changing.The casserole is moving beyond it's soggy, overworked past and re emerging as something exciting and new. Melissa Clark examines this revamped version in today's Wednesday"s Dining section of the New YorkTimes. It now has taken on a sophisticated turn while maintaining it's down home coziness. Gone are layers of mushy noodles and canned tuna.In their place, new ingredients bloom, turning the whole thing around.The dish is becoming as urbane as it's, French cousin, the cassoulet, that Gallic version of duck confit ,spicy sausages, and beans, topped with crunchy,garlicky breadcrumbs.You can create a lasagna or moussaka, both ,technically casseroles, for a family dinner or a welcome party.These dishes don't even have a soup can between them.Most mid century wives were told to make the perfect casserole Using Campbells soup, simply because it was quicker and even healthier.It just created a generation of bad casseroles. Now you can experiment.Take Chef Floyd Cardoz's recipe from his Battery Park City goes back to his childhood in India to create a casserole.He starts out with the typical birwani a baked dish of brown meat, fried onion and a mélange of spices ranging from cardamon to cinnamon, The famed Lower East Side's Fat Radish has a unique turn as well.Chef Nicholas Wilber makes his like a beet crumble.Beets, an unusual vegetable to put in the dish is layered with cheddar and a mix of beet greens and Swiss chard.The crunchy layer is a mix of oatmeal along with hazelnuts and Pecorino cheese and nutmeg.Chef Wilbur also amps up the dish's appeal by making it in copper and stone gratins.Leave the boring brownie pans or glass bakeware in the cabinets.The appeal of the new casserole's all over style serving it in a copper pan or gratin . This also explains the appeal of a Mexican style casserole where style and flavor trumps all.It's a bake of chorizo ,beans and a variety of chiles for a stylish take on the classic tortilla bake. There's a new generation of casseroles ,just waiting to be tried.They're chock full of new ingredients and new flavors. Try them now for a new twist on an old classic.