When your family demands comfort food, a great option is beef and cheddar casserole. It’s a four-step recipe that’s perfect for busy nights. Don’t be surprised if it ends up on your family’s favorite food list.
History of Cheddar Cheese
There’s no clear cut answer to the origin of cheddar cheese. A popular belief is that during the 1100s, a milkmaid left a milk pail in the cave. She meant to cool it, which was standard at that time, but she forgot about it. When she came back the following day, the milk hardened and turned into cheese.
While that story might not be more than folklore, we do know that cheddar cheese arrived in the United States during the 1800s. Cheddar producers began selling the cheese as a commodity. In the beginning, cheddar only got produced for the farm or as curds for manufacturers. Then, Jesse Williams changed everything.
Williams’s family built the first American cheese factory. He gathered milk from farms and produced curds and cheese onsite. It went from being a treat meant for farmers and their families to the factory. As the years went on, cheese making turned its focus to efficiency, which caused the quality to suffer. The manufacturers also worked to create a cheese that lasted longer.
Unique Characteristics of Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese comes in a variety of colors, mainly based on the cows’ grazing habits and the time of year. Natural cheddar cheese doesn’t actually look that appealing to most people. That’s why many farmers began adding annatto seed to provide the consistent orange hue consumers are used to seeing.
For the past several decades, consumers got used to plastic-wrapped, smooth, processed cheddar cheese, but that’s not what real cheddar looks like. As more people become informed, the demand increases for natural products. That’s why you can now find more natural cheddar cheeses on the shelf that are perfect for recipes such as this.
Beef and Cheddar Casserole Recipe
Total: 55 min
Prep: 5 min
Inactive: 10 min
Cook: 40 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups wide egg noodles (about 5 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 12 ounces ground beef
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- One 14 1/2-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 2 cups grated Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a 2-quart baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and put in the prepared baking dish. Toss with the sour cream, Parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and scallions and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Make a space in the pan, add the tomato paste and toast for a minute. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the diced tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Pour the beef mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with the grated Cheddar. Bake on the middle rack until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
The Food Network published a video illustrating how to make this delicious dish.
There’s also another YouTube video that shows the way to make this on the stovetop, in one dish, to make things even easier. In this recipe.
You can choose to use any type of pasta you want in this recipe. While the original calls for egg noodles, rigatoni, elbow macaroni and any other variety would work well.
It’s also simple to hide some vegetables in this dish, to trick your picky eaters. Consider chopping some zucchini, kale, spinach and other greens finely so they can’t be seen.
Finally, experiment with some various cheese options. You can add some extra mozzarella or Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Enjoy the Meal
Prepare to have your tastebuds jump for joy when you bite into this dish. It’s flavorful, comforting and warm – ideal for any busy, cold winter night.