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A baked potato casserole is a dish that uses baked potatoes and has been cooked in a casserole dish. Beyond these requirements, the baked potato casserole is open to a wide variety of ingredients and variations. Common ingredients include meat and vegetables plus some kind of sauce, whether sour cream, gravy, cheese or even alcohol, to moisten the dish. While the term casserole originated in France, it is a common recipe for cultures across the world.
The word casserole comes from medieval France, but dates back to ancient Rome and Greece. In modern usage, it is used to describe a meal prepared in a casserole dish, which is then placed in an oven and cooked. This includes a wide variety of dishes from lasagna to shepherd’s pie. Rice, pasta and other forms of potato are used in various dishes instead of baked potatoes.
Baked potatoes are a large variety of potato that is washed, then cooked for a long time without being peeled. When wrapped in foil, baked potatoes take around three hours to cook on a low heat. They are then cut open and topped with butter, cheese, or bacon. There are many different toppings. Baked potatoes are prized because by keeping the skin on while it is cooking, the potato retains a lot of its nutrients and flavor.
Both of these qualities are important for the baked potato casserole. In order for the baked potatoes to be cooked without burning the rest of the casserole, they are twice-baked. This means the potatoes are baked in the oven until partially or mostly cooked and then are placed whole in the casserole dish. Other ingredients are then placed with the potatoes or mixed in and this dish is cooked a second time in the oven. If the baked potatoes are cut open and mixed up with the other ingredients, the potato skins are usually kept in the casserole as a bottom or middle layer.
For some people, a baked potato casserole with just baked potatoes would be boring. Other ingredients add flavor and texture. Meats that are often combined with baked potatoes include ham, bacon, turkey and beef. Tuna and salmon can also be used. Other vegetables that go well include carrots, broccoli and spinach.
Sauces are used for two reasons: first, they add extra flavor and second, they help to keep the baked potato casserole moist. Tuna and salmon go well with a white sauce, while beef and pork can be eaten with a red sauce. Other sauces that can be used with a baked potato casserole include drinks such as wine or gravies and vegetable stock.