Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Carrot Casserol (kinda!) reborn gluten free

This is a picture from my family cook book from 1989.  This is my Aunt Thelda's contribution to Thanksgiving dinner every year.  As you can see, it is definitely NOT gluten free!  But this is the main vegetable dish in my family, and I feel strongly that every meal needs some vegetables!  

I could easily convert this to gluten free, but honestly, (don't tell my family this, it's sacrilege) I never liked the cracker crumbs, it's a texture thing.  So the first year I was gluten free, I simply made it without the crackers and thickened with corn starch.  But...

I feel that food should be visually appealing as well as smell and taste good, I don't like monotone dinners, and Thanksgiving tends to be all monochromatic, unless you are eating green been casserole, which also isn't gluten free!  Everything is white or light brown to dark brown or orange, I want some GREEN!  So the second year, I added broccoli, and liked it quite a bit.

I recently have learned about making sauces with wine.  Now you may think it's odd to learn this at my age, but I don't drink, so I've just avoided recipes with wine, or tried substituting with broth or vinegar, which you can certainly do, but I have found that the flavor really is much better with wine.  I made some Chicken Divan for a friend recently and fell in love with the mornay sauce with sherry in it, it's a whole new flavor experience!  So this year, I'm incorporating it into my Carrot Casserole!

4 Cups sliced carrots, steamed
2 heads broccoli, cut into small crowns and steamed
1 med onion, diced
4 T butter
2 T gluten free flour blend (2 parts sticky rice flour 1 part tapioca flour)
¼ t salt
1 C half and half
1/3 cup cooking sherry
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 Melt half the butter in a frying pan over medium high heat, and cook the onions until transparent but not browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  
Add sherry and chicken broth to pan and cook until reduced in half.  Pour the reduced liquid into the bowl with the onion.  

Melt the remaining butter in the pan and whisk in the gluten free flour.  Cook this for a couple minutes, continuing to whisk.  Don’t allow the flour to brown.  Quickly beat in the reduced wine and onions.  It will be very thick.  Cook a couple more minutes and then add the half and half and remove from heat.  You don’t want to cook the milk too long or it may curdle.  Stir in all but ½ cup of the cheeses.  

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, put the steamed vegetables in the dish and pour the sauce over it. Stir slightly to make sure everything is covered.  Top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

One of the great things about this dish is that you can make it the day before and keep it in the fridge until just before dinner.  If you are cooking a cold casserole, add another 10 minutes or so to the cooking time.  

Happy Thanksgiving!