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Casserole gathers best of St. Patrick’s Day’s scraps corned beef ideal for casserole

This is a special casserole that’s easy to cook and great for using up those St. Patrick’s Day leftovers.

My weekly clients enjoy this comforting meal, which I serve with fresh mixed vegetables. 

Healthy Corned Beef Casserole  

Yield: 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups diced cooked corned beef

2 cups Béchamel sauce (recipe below)

8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed

1 package (7 ounces) whole wheat small shell pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups cooked potatoes, cubed

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients, reserving about a quart cup of cheese to sprinkle on top. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Toss the cubed potatoes and butter and place on top of the casserole.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Top with remaining cheese and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Béchamel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 small onion studded with 2 or 3 cloves (optional)

1 small bay leaf

Dash of dried thyme leaf, crumbled

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Nutmeg, to taste

In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When butter starts to foam, add the flour all at once, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate and cook flour. Remove pan from heat and let stand, up to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, scald the milk (heating it until just below boiling point).

Return the roux to medium-low heat. Add the scalded milk all at once to avoid the formation of lumps. Simmer, stirring gently with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Add studded onion, bay leaf and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until smooth and thick.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.

• Chef Debi Stuckwisch is the owner of Meals Like Mom’s Personal Chef service in McHenry County. She can be reached at 847-778-9351 or mealslikemoms@comcast.net, or visit www.mealslikemom.com.

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