How do you make a good casserole?



nutcakes November 16, 2010
What kind of casserole? I just posted a baked pasta too
campagnes November 16, 2010
I'm going to cut-and-paste my answer to a similar question here; the answer was regarding a pasta bake, but I figure a pasta bake/casserole can be similar enough that it might help..

There are lots of different casserole recipes on this site if you're searching for a specific kind of recipe.

If you're trying to figure out how to actually create your own, the easiest way to get one started is by making a bechamel sauce: Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 3 tbsp. flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, and whatever other add-ins you like.

Figure 1 pound of pasta to 1 recipe of bechamel. If you add lots of veggies or meats (more than a half-pound, I'd say), then increase the bechamel by half. (If you like, you can use broth or stock for your liquid instead of milk (then the sauce becomes a veloute instead of bechamel).

From here, you can experiment with any kind of add-ins - whisk 1 pound of shredded sharp cheddar into bechamel for a great cheese sauce, or whisk 3/4 cup grated parmesan into bechamel or veloute for a light, sharp sauce. Substitute 1/4 cup of your liquid with wine for a little different flavor. Chopped fresh herbs, mustard, worstershire, hot sauce - play around with it.

Once you've got your sauce down, you can experiment with building your own bakes/casseroles. I like to make a bechamel with salt, pepper, parmesan and nutmeg, then combine with cooked pasta shells, broccoli, and cubed ham. Sprinkle with fontina and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
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