Articles & Recipes

Great Hints for Make-Ahead Casserole Suppers

November 13, 2017

·      When cooking pasta for a casserole that is not going to be baked right away, cook until barely al dente, then add 2 cups (500 mL) cold water to boiling pasta before draining.

·      Remember that pasta or rice tends to absorb moisture as it sits in a casserole; be sure there is enough liquid in the casserole.

·      Refrigerate cooked dishes to cool before wrapping. If freezing a casserole, be sure it is wrapped well in foil and a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

·       Frozen dishes can fool you when it comes to their heating time, especially hearty casseroles like lasagna. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow plenty of heating time, double-checking the center before serving. The deeper the dish, the longer it will take. You can reheat frozen cooked entrées: keep them well covered and always use a moderate oven (about 350°F/180°C). In general, a medium-deep casserole will take about 112 hours. Dishes that have lots of liquid can be warmed up over direct heat in a saucepan, but be sure to stir often.

·      If you know you’re going to freeze a casserole and don’t want to lose the baking dish to the freezer for weeks, line the dish with foil before adding the food. Cover and freeze until solid, remove from dish, overwrap well and return to freezer. (To use, place frozen food, still in its liner, back in the dish.)

·      Label food with not only the name of dish but also the reheating instructions to save time later.

·      Do not overcook foods that are made ahead because they will cook a little more when reheated.

·      Most casseroles and stews will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator and are best frozen no longer than 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave oven; room temperature thawing encourages the growth of bacteria.

·      Check the temperature of your freezer; it should register 0°F (-18°C) on a freezer thermometer.

·      Use less garlic, pepper and cloves than usual if freezing a dish because freezing intensifies these seasonings.

·      Use more onion, salt and herbs if freezing a dish because these tend to lose flavor during freezing.

·      Omit bread crumb toppings if freezing a dish because these become soggy.

·      It is better to add potatoes when reheating a dish since they change texture when frozen.

·      Use only regular or parboiled rice if freezing a dish since quick-cooking rice becomes very mushy.

·       Bath towels are great for transporting casseroles to potluck suppers because they not only insulate but also brace the dishes and keep them from slipping. Towels can also catch any drips that do get away.

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