Corn bread casseroles are a too-busy cook's dream. A handful of pantry staples--frozen and canned corn, corn muffin mix, butter, sour cream and an egg--are baked into something delicious and comforting. We jazz ours up with shredded cheddar and sliced scallions. You can keep it classic and skip the mix-ins, or you can add whatever you have on hand.
To take mashed potatoes up a few notches, cookbook author Melissa Clark mashes them with a creamy, tangy mix of creme fraiche, butter, parsley and sage, then tops them with cheesy breadcrumbs and bakes until crisp.
In Northern Italy, pizzoccheri are short, flat buckwheat noodles cooked with cabbage and potatoes and layered with cheese. For his version, Jonathon Sawyer cuts fresh lasagna sheets into noodles (buckwheat noodles can be hard to find) and bakes them in a gratin dish with a crispy bread crumb topping.
Grace Parisi proves that making potpie doesn’t have to take a long time with this one-skillet version, prepared with store-bought rotisserie chicken and—her stroke of brilliance—buttered white bread in place of the usual labor-intensive puff pastry crust.
Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce
Here’s a true crowd pleaser: pasta shells in a simple sauce of ground beef, tomatoes, and pesto, layered with mozzarella and Parmesan and baked until bubbly. Fusilli or orecchiette would work well here, too.
This pairing of chopped lamb with a mashed-potato topping is one of the most beloved British classics. Chef Tom Aikens infuses milk and cream with fresh herbs before folding them into the potatoes to make the dish especially luxurious.
Macaroni and cheese goes upscale with fontina, mozzarella, and Parmesan. This particular combination provides plenty of flavor and meltability, but don’t limit yourself to our selection: Make your own trio from the cheeses you have on hand.
Anna Thomas’s 1970s book, The Vegetarian Epicure, is iconic; updated in the rsquo;90s and rechristened The New Vegetarian Epicure, it focuses on recipes for entertaining. One of her latest dishes is this crusty baked polenta, swirled with mashed butternut squash and smoked Gouda cheese.
“I have a hard time getting excited by beef,” Kristin Kimball confesses. “Steak bores me, and roasts can come out dry. We do a lot of ground meat, and I get tired of coming up with new ideas for it.” This luscious potpie—with its buttery cheddar crust and filling mixed with parsnips, carrots and peas—would be a perfect addition to her repertoire.
In Italian cuisine, a sugo is a gravy or sauce. Here, Ethan Stowell prepares a pork sugo by braising pork shoulder until it almost falls apart, shredding it in a food processor and mixing it with a red-wine-and-tomato sauce; then he bakes it with orecchiette under a topping of Parmigiano cheese until crispy. The dish is an excellent alternative to the usual baked pasta, because it’s not as heavy and cheesy but still delicious and satisfying.
Breakfast Casserole: Chef David Kinch loves to say that this hearty combination of crumbled chorizo, chunks of crispy potatoes and eggs—all cooked together in a big cast-iron skillet—is his Mexican-Californian twist on rösti, the classic Swiss fried-potato breakfast.
This is a slightly modernized take on the very traditional Southern chicken casserole Jennifer Nettles’s mother likes to make. The recipe swaps out the usual canned cream of chicken soup in favor of a quick white sauce. A dash of hot sauce is the perfect finish.