Well-Equipped: Casserole Dish

In this month’s well-equipped, I’ll tell you all about casserole dishes and a favorite recipe that you can try at the end.  Next month, I’ll teach you about skillets..start practicing your egg cracking techniques!  PS – The Send Sarah to Philadelphia campaign is 100% funded…hooray and thank you!!

Growing up, my parents did all their one-dish baking, serving and storing in French white Corningware with the blue flower pattern and thick glass tops.  There was a magic to these dishes and their durability and versatility make them some of the favorite tools that I have in my kitchen.

When I think of casserole dishes now, I also picture the wonderfully hued and super heavy Le Crueset dishes and the vintage designs of Pyrex bakeware, glassware safe for the oven and just about everywhere else, that I find at Brimfield and on the occasional trip to Savers.

This cookware comes in all sizes but a real casserole dish is large, deep and ready for work in both the oven and on the table.  That’s why they are so perfect for potlucks!  They come in a myriad of colors but here’s a few words on shape:  traditional casserole dishes are oval or round.  Bakers are rectangular or square.  Ramekins are the teeny tiny ones.

How the dish is made, with earthenware, stoneware, glassware or metal ware, is conducive to the kind of cooking that happens.  The heat circulates all around instead of just on the bottom like in a stew pot on a stove.  The dishes can be used with or without a cover, depending on how tender and juicy your recipe needs to be at the end.

So, what’s the food cooked in a casserole dish called?  A casserole, of course!  (We have enough to remember in the kitchen so keeping things simple is always the best idea.)  These recipes usually include comfort food buzz words like “gratin”, “macaroni” and “shepherd’s pie”.  Lasagna and moussaka, its Greek cousin, are technically casserole dishes.  Feeling a little ennui after French class?  Make a cassoulet.  Know a bummed out Berber in North Africa?  A chicken tajine will cheer them up.

My friend Jen will tell you that my favorite casserole of all-time is tamale pie.  I have fond memories of second plates even during the summertime.  Tamale pie has been the subject of random text messages and always a meal request before she takes the pilgrimage home to Western Mass from Virginia for the holidays.  Ms. Martha has a great recipe for tamale pie and it is served up in proper portions in adorable ramekins.  Try it out this weekend!

What kind of casserole dish do you have and why do you love it?  Got a favorite recipe or want to sing the praises of tamale pie?  Sound off in the comments!