How to Make Ahead Casseroles

A casserole is a food preparation that includes meat, vegetables, a liquid and any of a number of other additions that work together to make a well-balanced, single-dish meal. There are many kinds of casseroles, and they can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Casseroles can be prepared ahead of time and then stored until needed, making them a convenient choice for a variety of occasions. Additionally, making a casserole ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator for a day before serving it intensifies the flavor of the dish. If you want to make a casserole before it is needed, then you will need to follow some guidelines for how to properly prepare and store it. Follow these steps for how to make ahead casseroles.


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    Pick an appropriate casserole dish. The dish you prepare your make ahead casserole plays a large part in determining how your casserole turns out, and should have certain characteristics. If you are following a casserole recipe, then the type and size of dish should be specified. Otherwise, follow these guidelines for choosing a casserole dish:
    • Make ahead casseroles should be able to go from the stovetop to the oven, and may be made of flameproof glass, ceramic or cast iron.
    • Prepare your casserole in a dish that has a tight-fitting lid.
    • The dish you choose to make a casserole in should be large enough to contain the casserole without it bubbling over while cooking, but small enough to prevent the liquid from reducing too quickly.
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    Choose your casserole ingredients. You may combine the following constituents as per your personal taste:
    • Meat. Beef, veal, lamb, chicken or pork are all appropriate choices for a casserole.
    • Vegetables. Carrots, celery, legumes, onions, green peppers, okra and squash are suitable casserole additions.
    • Starches. This includes potatoes, stuffing, rice, pasta, dumplings or other starches.
    • Seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus any additional herbs and spices you feel will complement the ingredients of your make ahead casserole.
    • Liquid. You will need to cover all of your combined ingredients with enough liquid to slow cook them in. You may use a cream soup (cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery, etc.), meat broth, a cream sauce, wine, stock or canned tomatoes.
    • Flavorful additions. Bacon, mushrooms, cream, butter and prosciutto are examples of the types of ingredients that can be included in a casserole, in moderation, for added flavor.
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    Prepare your make ahead casserole.
    • Cut your meat and vegetables to roughly the same size. This will allow them to cook through at approximately the same length of time. It is a good idea to cut them into bite-sized pieces.
    • Prepare starches separately, to be added to the casserole once the other components are prepared, and set them aside. If you are using potatoes or pasta, slightly undercook them, as they will get softer when they are baked into the casserole.
    • Heat oil in your casserole dish on the stovetop over medium heat.
    • Coat the cuts of meat in flour. You may do this by putting flour on a plate and dredging the meat through it, or by putting flour and the meat into a plastic bag and shaking the bag until the meat is coated.
    • Fry the floured meat cuts in the hot oil until the meat is browned on all sides.
    • Remove the meat from the casserole dish and set it on a plate to the side.
    • Add the vegetables and flavorful additions to the dish and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned.
    • Return the meat back to the casserole dish.
    • Add the starches, liquid(s) and seasonings.
    • Stir all of the ingredients together to make a casserole that is ready for the oven.
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    Bake the casserole according to the recipe instructions. If you are not following a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to bake the casserole, covered, at 275 degrees for 2 to 4 hours. Check it regularly and take it out of the oven once it is cooked to your desired consistency.
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    Allow the casserole to cool completely.
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    Store the casserole. Make ahead casseroles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days before reheating, or in the freezer for 4 to 7 months. Just be sure the casserole dish is air-tight sealed before storing.
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    Allow the casserole to reach room temperature before reheating it in the oven for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

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Categories: Meal Planning