Ode to the Casserole

TheHuntress used to have a thing against casseroles, largely because of bad childhood experiences with them. "I remember prodding at that tasteless crud for hours," she says.

But some hounds are giving casseroles a second chance.

After leaving home and experimenting with the dish, TheHuntress realized that she loves casseroles. "It makes me so happy in Winter to bung it in the oven, invite a bunch of people over to share and have that amazing smell drifting around," she says.

eclecticsynergy had a similar change of heart. "I grew up on canned-soup casseroles," eclecticsynergy says. "But as an adult I found that the casserole universe [is] much wider than I'd thought." eclecticsynergy likes to make James Beard's mushroom-barley casserole, as well as a casserole of brown rice and cheese.

Hounds also note that casseroles can take many forms. "We often do baked pasta--often in a 4 cheese sauce--that gets finished under the broiler. If this is a casserole, I'm all for it," escondido123 says.

John E. grew up in Minnesota, the land of casseroles known as "hotdish." "A hotdish, like a casserole, can be anything and the results mostly depend on the quality of the cook and/or the recipe," he says. Most Minnesota casseroles he experienced "were based on ground beef and could either go the tomato route or the bechamel route (mostly people used cream of something soup, but my mother thought they had too much fat and salt)," he says.

Maybe one of CHOW's updated casserole recipes might help change your mind about this classic comfort food.

Discuss: Casserole: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly...