Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hamburger Stroganoff Cottage Pie Casserole (Freezable) - 52 Church PotLuck Main Course

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If you take a look at the photo to the right and take  note of the date, Feb. 11, 2014 you will remember that we are in the Winter Olympic Season.  Since they are being held in Russia, I wondered if I had a Russian specific recipe in my repertoire.  Sadly, not really.  But I do have a Stroganoff recipe that is just about as good tasting as anything I make.  Comfort food to the max.  I pondered a bit and then came up with this casserole.  Made just a bit more peasant Russian with a layer of potatoes... like a British cottage pie.

Feel free to slice up some pepper rings for that Olympic feel.  But about any other time of the year and people will not quite get it... but I digress.

The recipe makes a single 9X13 Casserole. You could use a 2 smaller "Freezer to Oven to Table" casserole dishes (OK, Pyrex) and eat one now and save one for later (Freeze, wrap tightly in foil, label with date, freeze and plan to use within 2 months). Or just as easily, double the recipe and make 2 (or 3 or 4)... Just be sure to plan on using within 60 days.

So... if you want to double up and freeze a casserole for later (or divide in half for a smaller meal now and one for later), this freezes perfect. Here's a few tips

First, be sure the actual baking dish is freezer to oven safe. Those ubiquitous Pyrex brand clear dishes work best. You can also use a Foil disposable pan to freeze and bake, then transfer into a presentation dish to serve.

Second, always best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before baking. You can bake a frozen casserole right from the freezer. But the edges will be baked more crispy than the center by the time it is finished. To go straight from freezer to oven to table, just increase the baking time by 30 minutes. But again, you will have better results if you plan ahead and thaw the meal as much as possible. Leaving the casserole out on the counter for 2 hours (covered with the foil) also helps. The casserole will not be thawed completely but will cook more evenly. If you do this, only cook for another 20 minutes. As usual, but even more so, keep an eye on the dish as it cooks. Once the liquid is bubbling and the top is crispy crunchy, the dish is done no matter how much time you cook.

Third, 60 days... Two Months. NO MORE... Prepare and freeze, but date the dish. Cook and serve within 60 days for best results. Any longer and you will have freezer burn and the dish will start to turn on you. Personally, I am a 30 day guy,but I have baked these right at 60 days and it was fine.

OK.. Read over the recipe. The freezing tips are in italics. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this rather unique take on a twice baked potato!!

OK... Here's what I did...

Hamburger Stroganoff Cottage Pie Casserole

  • 2 Pounds Potatoes, peeled, washed and boiled until cooked through
  • 1 Stick (8 TBS) Butter, Softened, Cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • For the Stroganoff
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 1-1/2 Pound Ground Beef, Browned and drained
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 TBS Pepper
  • 1 tsp Mustard powder
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • Additional Chicken Stock OR Flour as needed to thicken gravy
  • 1/2 Pound Button Mushrooms, stems removed and diced
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat heavy bottomed Frying pan over medium heat. Melt the butter. Start a pot of salted water boiling for the potatoes. Cut potatoes into thin slices
  2. Add potatoes to salted water and boil for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft and cooked through.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, Add the Onions to the frying pan and saute for five minutes unto the onions have softened and appear translucent.
  4. Add the Hamburger and saute until browned. Drain the fat from the pan.
  5. Add the spices (salt, pepper, and mustard powder) to the hamburger/onions and mix well.
  6. Add the chicken stock and turn heat higher to get a simmer.
  7. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir to mix. Continue to simmer and stir occasionally for several minutes until sauce thickens to a gravy
  8. Add the Sour Cream and stir to combine. The sauce should start to thicken as it cooks through. If you want a thicker sauce, add a tsp of flour and mix.
  9. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, add HOT potatoes, butter and sour cream together and mix on medium speed for several minutes until smooth.
  10. add mushrooms to hamburger mixture and stir to combine.
  11. Transfer the stroganoff from the skillet to a large 9X13 prepared (sprayed with non-stick spray) baking dish. Level off.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Top the stroganoff with the mashed potatoes a dollop at a time, then smooth over top. If you try to spread the entire amount the potatoes will sink and mix into the stroganoff. Not what you want, you want a layer of potatoes on top of the meat mix.
  13. At this stage, if you are making two casseroles, or plan to freeze the large one... cover the freezer casserole with Aluminum Foil, pushing the foil down so there is as little air between top of casserole and the foil as possible (prevents freezer burn). Allow this to cool on the countertop to room temperature and then pop in the freezer. When you want to cook this, just transfer to the refrigerator 24-48 hours before you plan to cook and cook as directed below. If you do not have the time to thaw in the refrigerator, cook as directed an additional 30 minutes.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble at the edges and the potatoes start to get just a touch of golden brown and delicious!
  15. Allow to Rest and set for 15 minutes . Serve HOT and Enjoy!!!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


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