Sift journal’s vacation situation presents dozens of inspirations for baking that carry households collectively. On this excerpt, Sift invitations chef Vivian Howard to put in writing about her scrumptious tackle modern casseroles.
Rising up, vacation meals at my home have been a smorgasbord of Pyrex dishes, effervescent sizzling with “cream of one thing” combined with a “can of one thing else.” Each topped with crispy bits of cracker, potato chips, or breadcrumbs, casseroles have been how the ladies in my household fed plenty of individuals effectively. My mom, my grandmother, and my sister assembled the casseroles prematurely — an train in planning — and baked them up whereas the turkey was carved and the ham soaked up its glaze.
Immediately, I nonetheless name on casseroles to have fun. The components have modified, however the primary construction and performance of a casserole nonetheless ring true in my residence kitchen. I just like the comfort of placing one collectively earlier than friends arrive, perhaps even days earlier than, and easily sliding it within the oven to bake as I compose the salad or open wine to accompany the meal.
And whether or not I’m making one which’s savory, candy, or a casserole that straddles the road between the 2, I nonetheless persist with the fundamental formulation of a creamy filling beneath a crisp topping. However as an alternative of creamy canned soups, I name on eggy custards, wealthy cheese sauces, or roux-thickened shares to bind my fillings. And despite the fact that I really like Cheez-Its and French’s Crispy Fried Onions, I desire crunch from tiny croutons tossed with olive oil, naturally coarse cornmeal, or fried confit potatoes.
The American casserole style developed out of a necessity for comfort, and the cans, crackers, and chips have been essential items in that “quick, straightforward, and moveable” puzzle. Though…