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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grandmother's Rushmore's Wednesday Casserole ( Mashed Potato & Ham Casserole)

      I thought I would share with you a recipe I baked up last night for dinner. I consider it classic comfort food. It's not the quickest of recipes to make, but it's not a lot of work either.
   I originally found this recipe years ago in a book called At Grandmother's Table: Women Write about Food, Life and the Enduring Bond between Grandmothers and Granddaughters by Ellen Berkeley.  (I always make a note of the book title where I find a recipe). The book was very nice. It combined stories folks told about their grandmother's cooking, their kitchens, etc. along with sharing a favorite recipe of their grandmothers. I hope they don't mind that I'm reprinting the recipe below. (I read this as a library book back when I lived in Kansas. I just noticed from the Amazon insert that used copies of this book are available for as low as 76 cents for the hardcover plus shipping. I'm seriously tempted to get a copy for my home library at that price as I read it so long ago I'd love to read it again.)
   This recipe is titled Grandmother Rushmore's Wednesday Casserole. Over the years I've simplified it. I prefer it without the applesauce. I don't bother anymore with the milk or cream for glazing. It's perfectly fine with or without it. With it, it'll have a crunchier top. I also don't bother to measure anymore for this recipe. I simply make a very large portion of mashed potatoes. (NOTE: You cannot make this recipe with instant mashed potatoes that have been reconstituted. You must boil and mash real potatoes.) The recipe calls for just 1 cup of diced ham. I've added up to 3 cups of diced ham. Depends on the size dish your using. I simply put a thin layer of mashed potatoes across the bottom of the casserole dish, then a layer of diced ham that covers it completely, then top with more mashed potatoes and sprinkle paprika on top and toss in the oven for a half hour. For this recipe, I don't recommend a 9x13in casserole dish. Something smaller and taller works better, so you get a nice big scoop.  I use an 8 inch round roasting pan, but a 8in or 9in square dish would be fine too. Depending on your families preference, it would probably taste fine with shredded cheese sprinkled across the top as well.

Grandmother Rushmore's Wednesday Casserole

5 large potatoes
3 TBsp butter
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp sale
1 cup diced ham (boiled or baked)
3/4 cup applesauce
milk or cream for glazing

Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Peel and quarter the potatoes; boil them until tender. Mash them with a potato masher or electric mixer until smooth. With a fork, beat in the butter, milk, salt, and pepper. The potatoes should be slightly dry. In a large casserole dish, layer half the mashed potatoes, then all of the ham and applesauce. Top with the rest of the potatoes, brush with milk or cream, sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Serve to 4 to 6 people on Wednesdays (and other days, too.)

This is an easy recipe to make. It just takes a little time to peel, boil and mash the potatoes. While you're doing that, you can dice up the ham. It's a good way to use up leftover ham. As it's meat and potatoes, it's good comfort food. It doesn't use that much ham, the most expensive ingredient in it. It's a good way to stretch the protein as a little feeds a lot. Add a vegetable and dinner rolls, and you're all set for dinner tonight.

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