Third day of the A2Z Challenge and third alphabet of English – C and C is for Casserole. Oh yes! Casserole we all know the word, we have heard it and use it in our day to day life as well. But we use it in the context of a utensil in which we can cook and serve as well.

Yes casserole is a utensil and is usually made of earthenware, glass or cast iron. Casserole is one such dish in which we can bake, cook and then serve as well. However, there is another meaning to Casserole and that is– casserole is also kind of stew that is cooked slowly in an oven. And according to Wikipedia – Casseroles — a French adoption meaning a case, is a large, deep dish that is used both in oven as well as a serving vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan.

In Europe and in the United States, Casseroles usually consist of pieces of meat like chicken chunks, fish (tuna), and numerous chopped vegetables along with some starch binder like flour, rice, potato or pasta with either crunchy or cheesy toppings depending on the taste. Casseroles are both healthy and full of nutrition as well, as there is no oil or ghee used in preparing a casserole. The entire thing is cooked either in vegetable juices (for vegetarians) or juices of meat (for non-vegetarians). Although the liquids are released from the meat and vegetables, you may add some more to it in the form of stock, wine, beer, gin, cider or even vegetable juice when the dish is assembled for serving.

Served in either way as main dish or a side dish, casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven and are generally uncovered. The best part of preparing a casserole is that it can be served in a dish in which it has been prepared so there is less hassle of transferring the cooked dish from one utensil to another.

Interestingly in the countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, a casserole is named after its dish, rather than its contents and they are quite similar to stews. There is only one difference and that is – once the meat and vegetables are browned on the stove, they are then cooked in liquid in the oven, in a closed dish, thus producing meat that is tender and juicy, from long slow cooking. Since there is no direct heating there are less chances of food getting burnt.

Indians also slowly and steadily opting for this healthy cooking option, as it is easy to cook for on-the-go-people. There are various types of casserole including ragout, hotpot, cassoulet, tajine, moussaka, lasagne, shepherd’s pie, gratin, rice or macaroni timballo, and carbonnade. Although casseroles in some countries are similar to stews there is a marked difference in both the styles of cooking and that is stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a stove), whereas casserole cooking is generally done in an oven to bake where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel. Casseroles may be cooked covered or uncovered.

So fellas happy casseroling, and happy wolfing! Eat well, stay well and watch out for D is for Desserts! We all love to gorge!