Friday, November 21, 2014

Fixing Jesus dinner

Today I'm working up a couple of casseroles as part of Saint Remy's "Casserole Crusade" -- the food is prepared by parishioners, frozen, and then taken to soup kitchens in the area.

I'm not posting this to get credit; but to show you how easy it is. You can do this!

First, the organizers give you the aluminum pans and recipes. I had eight or so to choose from. I chose "Chicken and Noodles," which was fairly easy, and sounds like it will taste good.

So, first, I picked up the ingredients I needed. Only when I got to my car, I remembered I'd taken two casserole pans, but I'd only bought enough for one. So back to the store to buy all the same things again. The clerk was amused.

Once home, I get my kitchen in order before cooking. That is, I put some dirty dishes (still in the sink) in the dishwasher, and then get a sink of suds ready. When I cook, I find keeping some hot, soapy water in the sink makes things go more smoothly.

First, I pour all the broth into the pan and get it heating.

Next it says, "spray pans generously with "Pam" -- only I don't have any Pam, so I use butter instead.

While the broth is heating, I open up all the cans of chicken meat. I make sure I scrape out all the goodness in the cans before throwing them away. The chicken tastes pretty good, but I season it with some black pepper. The soup I'll add will provide some added salt, so I don't add that.

Next I open up all the soup cans. It called for two cans of chicken soup, and two cans of mushroom soup. Campbells now has "Chicken and Mushroom" soup, so I get four of those. I scrape out all the goodness I can.

The broth reaches a boil; then I realize I was supposed to have thrown the noodles in already. Oops! But no worry; it says, "let sit for 20 minutes." When 20 minutes goes by, I'll taste them; if not quite ready, I can always boil them a bit more. I think they'll be fine.

I notice the recipe doesn't call for onions or garlic. I'll hold off this time, but that might be nice. Or maybe shallots? But they would need to be sauteed.

While the noodles soak up the broth, I get this post started. Then back to the stove to check the noodles and broth:

I taste it...

Pretty good! A little bland for my taste, but perhaps not for those who will eat it, so I don't add any seasoning.

The directions say to drain off the broth, so I do -- but into another pot. Then I put all the ingredients together and stir:

And then I spread all this into the two pans, like this:

They looked awfully plain, so I added some parmesan cheese over the top. I think some paprika would be good, too, but I leave that off in case anyone mistakes it for red pepper (which would also be good, but...)

I did taste the final product. Pretty good, but in retrospect, some added red pepper and maybe some garlic would make it better. I may well make this again, for myself! I'd serve it with some green vegetables; how about you?

And here are the casseroles ready to freeze; then on Sunday, they go to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society who will take them to their destinations.

Now, did you forget about that leftover broth? Not I!

I put it back on the stove, and dug into the fridge for some items I've been saving. Remember the chicken I roasted a few weeks back? I saved some of the carcass and some of the onions that were roasted with it, along with the innards of the chicken. And I had some vegetables that were a little wilted. I threw it all in.

After I cook this for awhile, I'll be able to strain off the broth and use it for something or another. Meanwhile, in my mother's immortal words, I "cleaned out the icebox"!


Mike Monnin said...

. Thank you for your support of the casserole program for St Vincent de Paul! Great example for all of us!1

rcg said...

What a great post! This is so easy and fun, especially as a group or with children. Your instinct about leaving out seasoning was right, too. Some of the folks at StVdP can't handle spices.

Jenny said...

Yes, to answer your question, I would steam some fresh broccoli to go with that yummy casserole! What a wonderful parish you have!! I would give almost anything to be there... (:
And I would cut up those veggies and add some diced onion and garlic for the leftover broth and have a very healthy soup for a winter weekend (in other words, don't throw them away but leave them in the soup). A loaf of fresh crusty bread and that soup would be YUM!

BTW, Father, I recently discovered Litehouse freeze-dried chopped garlic in the spices section of the store. It is really great for soups and Italian sauce dishes.

ndspinelli said...

They call them "hot dish" in Wisconsin. I was in a local diner in a small farm town years back. A farmer in his 70's, maybe widowed, plopped himself down @ the counter, and said, "I'll have the hot dish." The hot dish wasn't displayed or on the menu. I guess you have to be a regular? But, whatever the hot dish was that day, the farmer was eating it. Maybe there's a regular rotation? Stuff like this is intriguing to me. There are so many men who know NOTHING about cooking. What a shame.

ndspinelli said...

I find many casseroles end up over cooked. If is has any type of pasta, the pasta should be undercooked since it is cooked more when baked. The same w/ any ingredient, like Jennifer's good broccoli suggestion. I would not even steam the broccoli, I put it in raw and it comes out perfectly after baking.

Jennifer said...

Father, I'm so glad you can help out others with your cooking! Not only do most guys not cook very much, they wouldn't do so for such charitable purposes. :)

I would serve that with a green salad with homemade dressing with apple cider vinegar purchased from the German market. (It's much stronger than American vinegar.)

Jenny said...

ND, I meant Father could steam broccoli as a side to go with the casserole; but you are right that you could add it uncooked to the casserole, then bake.

Michael Haz said...

The casserole looked pretty good, father. I'd add some diced green and red pepper for some seasonal color.

Nick, I think casserole is the term in southern Wisconsin, but as you get closer to Iowa and especially Minnesota, it morphs into hot dish.

Either way, its a good winter meal.