Turkey Casserole

It’s cold outside.  There’s nothing better than making homemade soup or baking a hearty, flavorful casserole.  When the savory smells engulf your kitchen and the heat emanates from your stove top, you’ll want to get cozy and celebrate the comforts of home (and home cooking).  I searched Mom’s collection and found her Turkey Casserole knowing that next to any hot soup, it’s the ideal dish to serve for dinner when the temperature is dropping and the kids are starving.

Casseroles are eponymous with the cookware used to bake the dish. I learned that by definition, casseroles contain pieces of meat (such as chicken) or fish (such as tuna), various chopped vegetables, a condensed soup, a starchy binder such as flour, potato or pasta, rice, and, often, some sort of crunchy topping (usually french fried onions or cheese). They’re usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. And wow, so many casserole varieties: ragout, hotpot, cassoulet, tajine, moussaka, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, gratin, and carbonnade. I was also happy to finally understand the distinction between casseroles and stews.  Apparently stewing is a cooking process where heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically on a stove). Casserole cooking is generally done in an oven to bake where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel.

I now know why my Mom and many other working mothers celebrated the casserole in the 1980’s.  The ingredients are extremely cheap.  I mean, I certainly felt like every ingredient came out of a can. And the vegetables used are stapes found in any crisper.

Can of chicken soup – a comfort food staple

What’s a casserole without French Fried Onions on top

Veggie medley – celery, onions, mushrooms

And, best part, the recipe is straightforward with no twists and turns and it takes under an hour to make.  So, even after a long day at work, Mom could whip this up on a whim and serve it fresh from the oven in time for dinner.

While I’m sure many of us have a knee-jerk aversion to anything these days termed “casserole” (due childhoods riddled with pot lucks featuring casserole baking disasters containing that cream-of-whatever soup) I promise, Mom’s Turkey Casserole will ignite your comfort food love.

As I read over Mom’s tattered stained recipe, the healthy lifestyle mom in me was not psyched at the prospect of buying French Fried Onions for the top crust (heck, I didn’t even know what they were or where to find them). But, I vowed I’d remain authentic to the original recipe and taste, save the can of mushrooms.  I can’t stomach canned mushrooms so I opted for fresh mushrooms instead.  But honestly, the very minute that familiar crispy fried onion smell wafted from my oven, I smiled.  I was brought back to all the times we came barreling into the kitchen on those cold dark winter evenings, ready to sit sat down and devour the very same casserole dish.

My kids definitely didn’t devour the casserole.  In fact, they were very skeptical.  They had never eaten onion rings, nor had the seen them used as a garnish.

French fried onion application

Ready to bake, full of french fried onions

When I reinforced the fact that the actual dish was rice-based (something they could eat day in and day out) they softened up and reluctantly took their first forkfuls.  Both kids seemed pleasantly surprised and even more impressed that they ate mushrooms without even realizing.  But, as expected, the french fried onions were the biggest hit of all.

The dish was a surprising hit, and I even had a heaping portion too.

Next time, we’re mixing it up with chicken.

Enjoy!

 

Comments

  1. Even though my mom still makes many more casseroles on average than I do, I find comfort in the creamy all-in-one meals. I have had one similar to yours. I really like the crunch that the water chestnuts give it.

  2. I love casseroles, they remind me so much of my childhood and I always wonder why I don’t make them much. Next to my crockpot, casseroles are one of the best foods for a long day and an easy dinner. I even toyed with the idea of opening a business where busy parents could swing by and buy a “Homemade” casserole on their way home for a quick and easy dinner.

    I think I would love to try yours. I’m not a huge fan of onion rings either, so I’m a little unsure about that, but I’ll try it and see how it goes. You can never have too many dinner options these days!

    Thanks for sharing at Shindig Saturday. Next week I’m coming to your house for dinner!

  3. Great recipe! Thanks for linking up to “Strut Your Stuff Saturday.” We would love to have you back next Saturday to share more recipes. -The Sisters

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