The French name "casserole" has a certain amount of terror for the American housewife. The foreign word startles her and awakens visions of cooking as done by a Parisian chef, or by one who has made the culinary art his profession. She, a plain, everyday housekeeper, would not dare aspire to the use of a casserole.
And yet the casserole itself is no more appalling than a saucepan. It is simply a covered dish, made of fireproof pottery, which will stand the heat of the oven or the top of the range. And the dainty cooked in this dish is "casserole" of chicken, rice, etc., as the case may be. Like many another object of dread this, when once known, is converted into a friend.
Clean and joint a tender spring chicken. Put into a frying-pan three tablespoonfuls of butter and fry in this a small onion and a carrot, both cut into tiny dice. When these vegetables are lightly browned, turn into the casserole, add to them two cupfuls of clear soup stock, in which three bay leaves and a little thyme have been boiled and then removed. In this consomme lay the jointed chicken, put the closely-fitting cover on the casserole and set it in a steady oven. It should cook for an hour. At the end of this time stir into the chicken a dessertspoonful of tomato catsup. Recover and cook for half an hour longer. Then add two dozen small French mushrooms which have been previously stewed for ten minutes, lastly, a glass of sherry. Season the whole to taste with pepper and salt and leave uncovered in the oven long enough for the chicken to brown. Fresh mushrooms are, of course, better than canned when you can get them.
Boil a cupful of rice in a quart of water until reduced to a soft paste. Mash this rice paste smooth with two tablespoonfuls of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Line a well-greased casserole with the mixture, pressing the paste firmly against bottom and sides, and leaving a large hollow in the center. Set in a cold place until stiff and firm. Meanwhile boil a pound of lamb's liver, drain and chop fine. Heat in a saucepan two cupfuls of soup stock, season with a teaspoonful of kitchen bouquet, thicken with browned flour and stir into this sauce the minced liver. Fill the hollow in the center of the rice with the liver mixture, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and set in the oven to brown.
Boil a sufficient number of potatoes to make three cupfuls when mashed. Return the mashed potatoes to a saucepan and stir over the fire, as you add slowly the beaten yolks of three eggs. When the smoking mass is hot and stiff, turn it into a greased casserole and press firmly against the sides, leaving a hollow in the middle about the size of a kitchen teacup. Brush the top and sides of the potato with the white of an egg and set in the oven until glazed and firm. Meanwhile, heat in a frying-pan or chafing-dish six tablespoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese in a gill of milk and when hot add to it the yolk of an egg, a pinch of salt and a dash of paprika. When this cheese-sauce is thick and hot, remove the casserole from the oven, fill the hollow in the middle of the potato with the cheese mixture, sprinkle cracker-crumbs over the top of the potato and cheese and return to the oven to brown. Serve in the casserole and at once.