One of the big concerns when transitioning to Gluten Free cooking is how to replace the creamed soups in hotdishes. (For those of you who may not know, hotdish is the Minnesotan equivalent of casserole.) I had always tried to shy away from these processed products but as my family size increased I found myself adding a gradually increasing number of cans a month into my regular shopping lists.
But when I had to learn to cook Gluten free, I found myself reverting to homemade white sauces, flavoring them with whatever vegetables and stocks are well suited for my desired final product. About a year ago I discovered the pleasure of cooking with real cream instead of a thickened sauce. It sure saves time and lends a different kind of creaminess than a thickened sauce.
Last night I made potato/hamburger hotdish with cream. I didn't really measure anything, so this is more a description of the process than a real recipe.
- Brown hamburger and season with salt and pepper (I had three pounds of meat, perhaps 1 tbs salt and 1 tsp pepper)
- Cut up whatever vegies you want. I used an onion, four carrot sticks and three celery ribs. I don't like mine soggy, so I cut them into strips about 1 1/2" long and then slice the long way. It makes the presentation colorful. Sliced fresh mushrooms would have made a nice addition, but I didn't have any on hand.
- When the meat is done browing, add these to the meat and stir together. I let this sit a few minutes so the meat fat and salt begin to penetrate the vegetables.
- I layered this mixture with chunked potatoes (about 8 pounds, cut into about 1 1/2 " chunks) in two baking dishes.
- Over this I poured almost 2 quarts of cream. Fill the pans until the potatoes are nearly covered, but leave at least 1/2" at the top or it will cook over when it boils.
- I tasted a bit of the cream and thought it was a bit bland, so I sprinkled on another thin layer of salt (maybe another tsp total)
- Then I baked the pans covered, at 350, for about an hour.
This wasn't any more difficult than opening a can of creamed soup and it tastes a whole lot better.