|Hot Pineapple Casserole, a side dish made with the unlikely combination of pineapple, tidbits or crushed, and layered with crushed Ritz crackers, and shredded cheddar cheese. Somehow it works!|
Baked Pineapple CasseroleWe southerners sure love our pineapple dishes. From sweet to savory and everywhere in between, we enjoy it in a multitude of dishes, and this is one of the oldest. Another one of those tasty dishes that doesn't really photograph all that pretty, and, at first glance, certainly seems an unlikely and odd combination of ingredients to pair together. Like its southern sisters Watergate Salad, 5 Cup Salad, and Old Fashioned Cherry Coke Salad, it's also another one of those difficult to place recipes in a menu listing - but, indeed, it is intended to be a side dish, and not a dessert.
I mentioned this casserole over on Facebook the other day when we were chatting about pineapple, and had several requests for the recipe, so here it is! Baked Pineapple Casserole, also known as Pineapple au Gratin, is one of those old fashioned lost classics that doesn't make an appearance much anymore, though it should. It is simply a perfect side dish for roast pork or baked ham and ideal for the Easter table. You can make it with either the pineapple chunks, tidbits, or even with crushed pineapple.
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Recipe: Old Fashioned Baked Pineapple Casserole©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 8 to 10 servings
- 2 (20 ounce) cans of pineapple chunks, tidbits or crushed pineapple, in natural juices, drained, but juices reserved
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1-1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, sliced thin
- 1-1/2 sleeves of crushed Ritz crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1-quart casserole dish, or spray with non-stick spray; set aside. Drain the pineapple juice into a saucepan; set aside the pineapple. Combine the sugar and cornstarch and add to the juice. Heat over medium high, stirring regularly, until sugar dissolves and forms a syrup. Stir in the pineapple.
To the baking dish add 1/2 of the pineapple and syrup mixture, top that with 1/2 of the crushed Ritz crackers, and thinly slice 1/2 of the butter over the top. Sprinkle on 1 cup of the cheese; repeat layers but ending with the butter; reserve the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Baked uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove, add remaining cheese on top and return to the oven just until cheese has melted. Serve as a side dish with pork or ham.
Cook's Notes: Three or even four layers makes this casserole even better, so feel free to double it, or if you have an appropriate dish that will allow you to do 3 or more layers, use it. Instead of layering, you may mix together the drained pineapple with all of the cheese, transfer to the casserole, and pour the cooked pineapple juice syrup all over the top. Top with the crushed crackers and scatter the thinly sliced butter all over the top. To add some holiday color, add in a well drained, small jar of maraschino cherries.
Variation: This version is really almost like a crisp but it is also good. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with a small package of pineapple flavored Jello and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add 1 cup of water and heat over medium to medium high until mixture is smooth and has thickened. Stir in 2 cans of drained pineapple tidbits and transfer to prepared baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese, sprinkle the crushed Ritz crackers on top, melt the butter and pour all over the top.
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