What is a casserole?
Technically, the term casserole refers to the dish it’s cooked in, which is a vessel that can be used in the oven and to serve from. This means that any kind of tray bake, gratin or even slow-cooked stew could be considered a casserole – as long as it’s spent some time in the oven, you’ve got a casserole.
What do I need for a casserole?
There’s really not very much that can’t go into a casserole. Any protein could work, depending on the cut of meat and how much time you’ve got, and veggie casseroles are a great vegetarian main idea. The rough formula goes something like this: hero product (protein or veg) + braising liquid + further accompanying veg or starch + time in oven = casserole.
How to make a basic casserole
The most common example of a casserole is a chicken one, which we’ll use as the example below.
- Sear chicken on the stove (ideally in the casserole pan if it’s able to go on the stove top) and remove from the heat.
- Add aromatics like sliced onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Other hardy veg like mushrooms, aubergine and butternut could also go in now, as well as potatoes.
- Place your chicken back into the casserole (or transfer everything to a casserole dish) and cover with whatever liquid you’re using. This liquid could be veg or chicken stock or even tinned tomatoes.
- Place the casserole into the oven and leave for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through evenly and tender. Your sauce should be well-thickened, but if not, you could turn up the heat in the oven or reduce it on the stove again. Just before removing from the oven, you could add in a quicker-cooking vegetable like spinach or peas, or another flavour element like olives and capers. Canned beans and chickpeas would also go in for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Remove from the oven and serve with either rice or mash (if you didn’t put potatoes in the casserole).
You could use chicken breasts here, or bone-in chicken thighs if you prefer. Other meaty swaps could be sausages or cubed stewing beef. If you’re keeping it veggie, something like large chunks of butternut, mushrooms and sweet potato would work.
Ready to make your own? These are our favourite casserole recipes.
Sausage, butter bean and tomato tray bake with crispy röstis
Use any sausages you like, or omit them and keep this veggie-friendly.
Get the recipe for sausage, butter bean and tomato tray bake here.
Cape Malay chicken biryani casserole
The ultimate one-pot meal.
Puttanesca baked fish
Swap out the fish for chicken breasts if you prefer.