By Kevin Williams
CASSEROLE IS KING
Casseroles are a mainstay of Amish menus. Why? Well, they are often easy to assemble, can feed large amounts of people, and usually don't require 12 different dishes that you'll have to scrub later. Often a good casserole can be made by slicing some veggies, frying some meat, throwing in some noodles, and opening a can of soup or two. That's the appeal of casseroles in Amish country. And simplicity fits the bill for Mattie Beiler's six-ingredient country casserole.
If an Amish family experiences a tragedy, a death or a natural disaster, often the first comfort items to arrive are casseroles. I've been to Amish homes on such occasions and you'll often see tables groaning under the way of a massive passel of casseroles. Casseroles are versatile, easy to heat and reheat, and quite portable. The casserole is definitely king in Amish country.
POST-WAR FOOD TRENDS
This casserole calls for canned tomato soup. Some Amish cooks will make their own homemade tomato soup and use in a casserole, but if you do that it sort of defeats the purpose of a casserole, which is "easy." I've heard snickers and comments from readers for years like "ha, the Amish use canned soups!?" Yes, they do. Canned soups are quite popular in Amish kitchens, the ultimate convenience food that grew in popularity after World War II. The post-war period was when many processed foods entered the Amish diet: canned soups, Velveeta cheese, crackers, and the like. I'm not saying necessarily that this was a good thing, it definitely altered the Amish diet. This casserole has cream of mushroom soup in it (my parents also added fresh mushrooms). I will say that, in my experience, most Amish cooks make their own noodles instead of buying them. But there is time efficiency realized in making homemade noodles because you can make a massive batch, store them, and then bring them out for dishes like this.
What makes this casserole distinctive is that it is so simple: six ingredients.
For the noodles, use store-bought or if you are ambitious, just make these four-ingredient homemade noodles.
Most Amish cooks would use home-grown onions, chop, saute and then on to the next step!
Ditto for the ground beef, most Amish cooks, in my experience, have their own supply of home-butchered beef or if they don't have their own, they can get some from a relative.
Mushrooms make anything better, don't they? While the original recipe doesn't have it and I left it out of the recipe below, my parents added mushrooms and loved it.
The addition of canned soups really speeds up the prep of this casserole.
This is a layered casserole with a layer of beef mixture on the bottom, followed by noodles, followed by beef, and topped with noodles. I'm a little surprised this casserole doesn't call for cheese, so many of them do. But I am sure you could top with cheese if you wanted to.
I love layered casseroles!
The casserole looks just like you want out of the oven, golden and hearty!
Mattie Beiler's Six-Ingredient Country Casserole looks amazing and will feed quite a few people. Another thing about casserole recipes is they can be easily scaled up to feed a larger crowd.
So give this casserole a try!
Mattie Beiler's Six-Ingredient Country Casserole
1 lb. beef chunks or ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 can tomato soup
1 lb. egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
Saute chopped onion in olive oil.
Add can of tomato soup undiluted.
Cook egg noodles according to directions on package.
Add can of cream of mushroom soup, undiluted.
Grease casserole dish.
Place ½ of beef mixture in bottom of casserole.
Add ½ of noodle mixture.
Put rest of beef on noodles.
Add remaining noodles.
If desired, sprinkle paprika lightly over top of noodles.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.
- 1 lb. beef chunks or ground beef
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 can tomato soup
- 1 lb. egg noodles
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Saute chopped onion in olive oil.
- Add beef.
- Cook well.
- Add can of tomato soup undiluted.
- Cook egg noodles according to directions on package.
- Drain well.
- Add can of cream of mushroom soup, undiluted.
- Grease casserole dish.
- Place ½ of beef mixture in bottom of casserole.
- Add ½ of noodle mixture.
- Put rest of beef on noodles.
- Add remaining noodles.
- If desired, sprinkle paprika lightly over top of noodles.
- Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.