Friday, December 16, 2011

Shipwreck Casserole

Shipwreck casserole is a super easy to put together, layered casserole, made with ground beef, onions,  potatoes, and veggies - here I used carrots, bell pepper and celery - and added a layer of rice.
Shipwreck casserole is a super easy to put together, layered casserole, made with ground beef, onions,  potatoes, and veggies - here I used carrots, bell pepper and celery - and added a layer of rice.

Shipwreck Casserole

There is not a single thing particularly unique to me about this Shipwreck Casserole. It's just one of those meat and potatoes, family-pleasing casseroles with a funny name that's been around a long time. It's actually known by a couple of other names too, like Dinner in a Dish, 7-Layer Casserole or Meal in One Supper, but there are at least two stories of lore that are attached to how the name shipwreck came about.

One story goes that following a shipwreck, shipmates grabbed what food they could before abandoning the vessel and this mixture became their supper on land, from the result of what they had gathered. Another claims that this became a traditional dish prepared for survivors and first responders when a disaster at sea had occurred - sort of like our funeral foods down south. I don't know if there's any truth to either story, but I think it'd be fun to play along with it for the kids, and since this is easy enough to throw together, they can even lend a hand in making supper.

As always there are many variations with this casserole and the way that it is layered, but this is the one we like the best. Carrots are one of the few vegetables that The Cajun will eat and paired up here with ground beef, onion, potatoes, bell pepper and rice, means it's a hardy and filling dish that my husband gobbles up! Since there are potatoes, you can skip the rice if you like. It's not uncommon for them to share space in this part of the south, and frankly we like them both in this casserole. Some folks do not precook the meat, but I do prefer to do that and drain off any excess fat.

The real beauty of this casserole is that it is a meal in one dish that you can customize to your own needs. You can stretch this by using as little as one pound of ground beef, or bump it up to a full 2 pounds if you have more hardy eaters. You can use more or less of the veggies too, and there's plenty of room to change them up to your liking. Chopped broccoli, corn, green beans, mixed vegetables, and peas are a few excellent choices. Drained beans are a typical add-in as well.

Try different seasonings too - chili powder, taco seasoning, powdered sloppy joe seasoning mix, oregano, or thyme will all fit. If you're using fresh vegetables though, the one thing this casserole definitely needs, is a dusting of the seasonings, seasoning salt, or plain salt and pepper in between those layers. Don't overdo it, but don't miss that step either. Do keep in mind sodium in any canned products too though, if you're going that route.

Shipwreck Casserole is a delicious, hearty casserole meal that I think you'll love. Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Shipwreck Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 1 hour 5 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, or seasoning salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thin or diced
  • 2 cups of thin sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup of celery, diced small
  • 1/2 cup of diced bell pepper
  • 2 cups of cooked rice, optional
  • 1 can of condensed tomato soup, (like Campbells)
  • 1 soup can of warmed water
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning
  • Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), optional
  • 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish; set aside. Brown ground beef and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder; drain, if needed and set aside. Layer casserole with onions on the bottom, then potatoes; sprinkle lightly with seasoning salt, or salt and pepper. Top with carrots, celery, and bell pepper; sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. Top with cooked rice, then the browned ground beef. Whisk together the can of soup, one soup can of water and the Italian seasoning until blended; pour evenly over the top. Season top with a light dash of Cajun seasoning, to taste. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour; remove cover, sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven until cheese has melted.

Cook's Notes To transform this into a stew, cut potatoes into cubes instead of slices, omit the rice, and increase liquids to include one large (46-ounce) V-8 vegetable juice, or an equal amount of beef stock or broth and water, or any combination of the three. Add everything to a large soup pot, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer on the stovetop for 45 minutes, or until veggies are tender.

Shortcut This: Instead of raw potatoes, use frozen, thawed hash brown potatoes, thawed tater tots, or canned, sliced new potatoes. Can also use frozen thawed sliced carrots. Grab a container of pre-chopped onion, celery and green pepper mix from the produce department to save some time.

Pork Chop Casserole: Substitute 4 to 6 fairly thick (3/4 to 1-inch) bone-in, center cut, pork chops for the ground beef and one can of cream of mushroom for the condensed soup. Layer veggies as above (omit rice), season the chops and sear in oil in a skillet and place on top of vegetables. Spread mushroom soup evenly on top of the chops, add one soup can of water. Bake covered for thirty minutes at 350, then remove foil. Rearrange chops and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, or until pork chops are tender and vegetables cooked through.

Variations: Can also use thinly sliced onion in the first layer instead of chopped if you prefer. Vary the vegetables (use corn, peas, chopped broccoli, green beans, etc.), and add drained and rinsed beans (kidney, pintos, northern, etc.) in with the cooked and drained ground beef, and try different seasonings - chili powder, taco seasoning, sloppy joe seasoning mix, oregano, thyme, etc. If using canned veggies, drain before adding and keep in mind that canned, and sometimes frozen veggies, generally will have salt and/or seasonings in them already, so adjust seasonings accordingly. Swap the tomato soup with canned sloppy joe sauce (like Manwich) or eliminate the water and use two (11.5 oz.)  cans of V-8 vegetable juice. Can also substitute cream of mushroom or cheddar cheese soup for the tomato soup, for a different flavor.

Crockpot: Layer ingredients in the slow cooker seasoning each layer. Top with the soup mixture, cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours, about 3 hours on high, or until potatoes and other veggies are cooked through.


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Posted by on December 16, 2011
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