Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Casserole Paradigm

My latest venture into the field of self taught cooking is Casseroles. I looked at 20-30 recipes on, and began to understand the core formula behind them.

I have in my head what I understand as the "Meal Principle." A meal is generally described as a protein, vegetables, and a carb base. Other ingredients are added to create certain flavors or textures, but those three things are the core requirements. This formula describes everything from Burritos to hamburgers, to teriyaki. The Casserole model is an expression of the meal principle in which the ingredients are mixed together and baked.

The first casserole I derived from my research was part of my "Squash is the new carb" phase, so instead of a normal carb base I used Spaghetti squash. It was essentially four different kinds of squash, and chicken, all of which is then covered in cheese and baked until the cheese melts and the rest settles. I eventually yielded and began using actual noodles because as it turns out Squash still isn't a carb. I recently started toying around with a mashed potato base, so it was the potatoes, chicken, squash, and cheese all stacked up, then baked. Last time I was out of chicken, so I substituted in ground beef, and had too much mashed potatoes so I added a potato crust to the top. It worked pretty well, but the cheese and the beef don't quite get along, and the squash goes much better with chicken. I was thinking of changing the vegetables to onions, peas, and carrots when I realized what I had done.

I was demonstrating the meal principle, and the casserole model and arriving at an elemental proof of Shepard's pie.


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