Sunday 17 May 2020

Hamburg Casserole

Let’s face it – cakers aren’t exactly poets when it comes to naming our food. Over the years, I’ve featured recipes for Pink Thing, White Stuff and Corn Ring on this blog. Names like that don’t exactly whet the appetite. And asking, "Now, who wants to taste my Pink Thing?" at the end of a meal may lead to your dinner guests scrambling for the door. I'm speaking from experience.

So it’s sometimes easy for me to pass on recipes on account of their uninspired names. But some recipes deserve a second look. Hamburg Casserole, featured in Cooking Favorites of Cobourg, didn’t exactly jump off the page at first glance. Then I spotted one ingredient that took this recipe from yawn to yowzers! Do you see it, too?

1 pound hamburg
1 large onion
1 medium tin spaghetti
1 small tin peas 
¼ pound sharp cheese, cubed (see note)
½ cup tomato juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small tin mushrooms

Brown hamburg, saute onion and mushrooms. Layer in above order in casserole. Cover and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

IT’S THE TIN OF SPAGHETTI!!! Pasta from a can was one of my favourite lunches as a kid. Specifically, Alpha-Getti (which helped build my literacy skills) and Chef Boyardee Beefaroni which I usually ate with a side of white bread smeared with margarine. Because carbs. 

Given that I’m married to an Italian, I’m forbidden from ever bringing canned pasta into the house. That and Little Caesar’s pizza. I mean, not even the crazy bread. Hashtag what the hell? But this recipe gave me a legit reason to go out and buy a can.

One ingredient I wasn’t looking forward to? Tomato juice. Honestly, it’s the worst. I think I suffered too many traumatic banquet dinners growing up. Tomato juice was usually served with the first course (followed by an iceberg lettuce salad with French dressing in a small wooden bowl) and always came room temperature in those little juice glasses.The only redeeming thing about tomato juice is the can, which you can use to make a Carousel o' Cards at Christmas time. 

In spite of its lacklustre name, I have to say that Hamburg Casserole was one of the prettier caker dishes I’ve made. And colourful, too! You have your brown, your green, your beige, your orange and even a splash of red. That’s four more colours than most caker food! I think I over-pead it, though. The recipe called for a small can, and I got a standard sized one. 

In terms of the taste, I’d have to say – pretty good. It was cheesy, hearty, pea-y and the canned spaghetti added a touch of wormy fun. Even the Italian went back for seconds, although I’ll get in trouble for saying that. Hamburg Casserole, your name might be meek but your taste is mighty!

I’ll be back next week with another tasty caker recipe. Until then, stay home, stay safe and never judge a casserole by its name. 

Note: A ¼ pound of cheese is about a cup.

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