Casseroles: Not totally gross?!

I like the idea of casseroles. A whole meal in a single pan that will produce leftovers I can enjoy for lunch the next day? Yes please I want that. I think somehow, somewhere, the casserole went awry. I am not really sure who to blame for this – Kraft? Campbells? In any event, the casserole seems to have somehow fallen out of favour. But not around here. Here, it’s just coming back into style.

Kielbasa casserole

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. potatoes, boiled, cooled, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 lb. kielbasa sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 lb. kale, stems removed and blanched
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2  cups grated cheese (I used Cheddar, but you could use Swiss, or Havarti – anything you like or have in the fridge)
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Thoroughly butter a 9″x13″ casserole dish.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt two tablespoons of the butter, and add onion. Sauté until translucent, then add potatoes, and cook until lightly browned. Add kielbasa, and reduce to medium heat.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt remaining butter, and stir in flour until the mixture forms a paste. Whisk in milk and reduce to medium, stirring frequently until thickened, about two minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of cheese, mustard, garlic, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and salt. Taste before salting too heavily – keep in mind, your sausage will be plenty salty as well.

Add blanched kale to the potato mixture, then pour sauce over, tossing to coat. Pour mixture into casserole. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and remaining cheese over top, then slide into the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

You could substitute bratwurst for the kielbasa if you wanted, sub in whatever kind of cheese you have or prefer, add mushrooms if you wanted, or use spinach instead of kale depending on the season. This was a nice, hearty, easy meal, and Nick has asked that it be made again. Because it’s so saucy, you might try over egg noodles or braised cabbage, or with a side of crusty bread to wipe your plate clean.

It’s homey, and sort of rustic, and I want to call this a casserole because it reminds me of something you’d serve on a weeknight, to your family or an apartment full of hungry friends, and not just for it’s delightfully cheap and easy attributes. And for all that cream sauce? It’s surprisingly not heavy or unpleasant once it’s in.

So, anyway. I think it’s time we made casseroles cool again. You in?

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5 thoughts on “Casseroles: Not totally gross?!

    1. It’s so good! It holds up better than spinach or something would, so it keeps its taste. I did try the kale chips – they were delicious! I may have over-salted them, but no one seemed to mind 🙂

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  1. God, I made an old family favorite casserole tonight and updated it a wee bit. This is probably the kind that has found itself in disgrace — so old fashioned and gooey. Basically one layers creamed corn (yes, the horrible canned stuff) and cracker crumbs, pours half & half over the top, dots with butter if desired, and bakes it. This time I stirred in some pureed chipotle chiles in adobo and layered in some shredded cheddar cheese. Yum. So old fashioned.

    I invented a carrot casserole when I was 11. I still make it when I feel like I need some bright yellow in my life. 🙂

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    1. That sounds super good! And also, I like the idea of carrot casserole being the bright yellow in anyone’s life. You’ll have to share! Nick makes this thing that involves cubed, cooked chicken breast, pasta, 2 cups of sour cream, 2 cans Campbell’s cream of chicken, like, a BRICK of orange cheese, and a topping of Stove-Top Stuffing which seems like it would be really repellent, but for some reason is delicious even though I could never bring myself to buy the ingredients, let alone put it together. It’s basically a heart attack in a pan, and we rarely have it, but sometimes… I am pretty sure *that* is the kind of casserole that brought shame to the rest of them.

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