Recipes from Gourmet Casseroles with Chef Heather Brinker

Bechamel Sauce

•    1 quart milk
•    2 bay leaves
•    1/2 cup unsalted butter
•    1/2 cup flour
•    Pinch salt and white pepper
•    4 garlic cloves, crushed
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and 1 bay leaf to a gentle simmer, stirring so it doesn’t scorch the bottom of the pan. Keep the milk on low heat.
Make a white roux by melting butter over low-medium heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Do not allow to brown. Remove from heat, then gradually add a bit of the warm milk to the roux and whisk vigorously. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring up to a low simmer, continuing to add more milk and whisk. Cook for 5 minutes until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Check seasoning; add salt, white pepper, garlic and the remaining bay leaf.
To prevent a skin from forming as the sauce cools, lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Crab Noodle Casserole
•    1 can white crab meat
•    1- 8oz pkg louis kemp chunk crab
•    4 cups béchamel sauce
•    4oz mascarpone cheese
•    4oz goat cheese
•    1# rigatoni pasta cooked
•    1 ½ cups fresh spinach chopped
•    2 tablespoons melted butter
•    ¾  cup of bread crumbs
•    ¼ cup wasabi peas crushed
•    Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan, heat béchamel sauce. Do not allow to boil. When sauce is hot, add cheeses and stir till melted in. Remove sauce from heat and fold in spinach. Add salt and pepper if needed. In a large bowl, mix the crab and cooked pasta together. Be sure not to break the crab up too much. Next add sauce to pasta and crab mixture. Pour casserole into greased desired baking dish. Mix wasabi peas, bread crumbs, and melted butter together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hot in the center.

Gorgonzola Mac N Cheese

•    1# small pasta shells cooked
•     1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
•    4 cups béchamel sauce
•    4oz pancetta or thick cut bacon cooked and chopped
•    ½ cup bread crumbs
•    2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
•    Salt and Pepper to taste
•    2 tablespoons butter melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat béchamel in a sauce pan and add fresh thyme, crispy pancetta, truffle salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, fold together crumbled gorgonzola and pasta. Be sure not to break up the gorgonzola too much. Add the sauce to the pasta mixture. Pour mac n cheese into greased casserole dish. Mix the melted butter and bread crumbs together. Season topping with salt and pepper. Sprinkle bread crumbs over casserole. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hot in the center.


Truffled Tater Tot Hot Dish

•    1# cooked stew meat or leftover pot roast
•     6oz haricot vert or French green beans (frozen)
•    4 cups béchamel sauce
•    8oz mixed mushrooms
•    1 pkg tater tots
•    2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
•    1teaspoon truffle salt (can substitute truffle oil)
•    Salt and Pepper to taste
•    3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter. Sliced the mushrooms and add to the pan. When mushrooms are ¾ of the way cooked, add béchamel sauce, truffle salt and fresh thyme. Stir and allow sauce to heat up and mushrooms to finish cooking. In another pan, heat meat in a small amount of the cooking liquid or broth.
When oven is done preheating, cook tater tots according to package. In a sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and cook haricot vert. Salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to leave them al dente.
When tater tots have finished cooking, place a few green beans on each plate. Next top each plate with some of the hot meat, mushroom sauce and finally cooked tater tots.

~You can also layer all ingredients in a casserole and serve family style if you would like.


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