By Kevin Williams
This recipe comes from the Swiss-Amish settlement around Berne, Indiana. I’ve said before that I’d love to have the time and resources to comb the backroads of Adams County, Indiana and interview elderly Amish women about their recipes. There is so much culinary history in this Amish community and it is gradually fading away.
Other traditions are having trouble hanging on:
Yodeling — part of the fabric of this unique Swiss-Amish enclave — is one of many traditions that distinguishes this quiet corner of northeastern Indiana from other Amish communities scattered throughout the United States and Canada. In many ways these rural hinterlands have been frozen in time, rooted to their Swiss heritage. Yodeling music is piped out onto the main road in Berne. Edelweiss Florist is named after a white flower found high in the Alps. A local beauty salon goes by the name Swiss Hair-atage, and each July the city christens its new Swiss Miss. Cementing the city’s ties with Switzerland is the completion of the clock tower in Berne, modeled after a similar one in Bern, Switzerland, that has stood sentinel over that city since the 15th century.
At least on the surface, Berne’s Swiss cultural heritage appears fixed. But the currents of change are running swift beneath. The iconic open buggies of Berne are dwindling in number. Culinary favorites like raisin pie and wedding nothings — traditional fried dough disks — are being displaced by Big Macs and empanadas. And the beloved practice of yodeling is being abandoned by the young and scorned by Amish elsewhere.
But hearty recipes still hold fast in the Amish kitchens around Berne, recipes like this hearty, easy casserole. Many of the Amish around Berne have their own steer so the hamburger used would be incredibly fresh. This is a casserole that my parents love. I’ve had this recipe in my archives for over 20 years and it has been a favorite of my parents ever since I first introduced them to it. So give this a try, maybe it’ll become a favorite in your house!
- 2 pounds of hamburger
- 1½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 /2 teaspoon of salt
- 16-ounce can of tomato sauce
- 1 cup of cooked rice
- 1 /4 cup of chopped onion
- 3 /4 cup chopped green peppers
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder
- 2 cups of shredded cheese
- Cook hamburger and drain excess grease.
- Mix cooked hamburger and the rest of the ingredients in a large casserole dish, saving one cup of cheese to spread on top.
- Bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes or until cheese is golden and melted..