|Old School Baked Pineapple Casserole, a favorite holiday side dish in the south, made with the unlikely combination of pineapple 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 pineapple chunks or tidbits, in natural juices, drained, but juices reserved from one can
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, divided
- 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1-1/2 sleeves crushed Ritz crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-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. Set aside 1/4 cup of the syrup; stir in the pineapple. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add to the 1/4 cup syrup.
Spoon 1/2 of the pineapple and syrup mixture in the casserole dish, top that with 1/2 of the crushed Ritz crackers, half of the cheese and thinly slice 1/2 of the remaining butter over the top. Repeat layers. Drizzle the reserved butter syrup on top and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve as a side dish with pork or ham.
Cook's Notes: Crushed pineapple may also be used, but reduce cornstarch to 1 tablespoon. Three or even four layers makes this casserole even better, so double if desired. To add some holiday color, add in a jar of well drained, maraschino cherries.
Variation: This version is really almost like a cobbler or 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 (or use reserved juice plus water as needed to equal one cup) 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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