Killing Them Softly: Fish Casserole

cookbooks

EDITOR’S NOTE: My recent discovery of our families’ collection of 1970s era church cookbooks has been nothing short of a conversation piece around Al Dente HQ. The kind-hearted and well-intentioned women behind these recipes set cooking back years, all the while trying to kill their families with butter, shortening and lard. Not wanting to hog the glory and splendor for myself, it is my pleasure to share these classic culinary gems with you. These are the original recipes with very little editing. If you have one of these around your house or find one at your parent’s home, please contact me. I would love to get my hands on it.

RECIPE: Fish Casserole
AUTHOR: None listed
COOKBOOK: Home Bureau Creations, by Members of the Onondaga County Home Bureau
APPROXIMATE YEAR: 1979

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS? The Mother-In-Law worked for Onondaga County for a time in the 1970s and 1980s. This cookbook was fundraiser/morale raiser for the staff of something called the Home Bureau. I’m not entirely sure that this office did. Given this latest title, I’ll be changing the graphic for this series soon. Crowdsourced recipes of all denominations are now fair game.

The cookbook itself was printed by Circulation Service, a Kansas company that apparently specialized in these items. They are far more slick than the church cookbooks churned out on mimeographs and bound by lock rings. The intro features all sorts of “helpful” tips, including conversion charts, seafood buying guides (barracuda is best when baked), a list of quantities when serving 100 people (you’ll need 25 lbs. of weiners to do that), the ideal weights for adults (as long as you are a man shorter than 6-3), and a chapter-and-verse list of where to find things in The Bible (Do you bear a grudge? Luke 6 will take care of that, thank you very much).

This fish casserole is the worst of the worst I could find in a cookbook of pretty boring, normal recipes. Casseroles are easy to pick on and anytime you mix fish with cream of mushroom soup, you have my attention.

Fish Casserole

  • 1 1/2 lbs. haddock
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 3 tbsp. minced green pepper
  • 3 tbsp. minced celery
  • 4 oz. can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 can mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp. white wine

Poach the fish in lightly salted boiling water. Remove and press between paper towels to get out as much moisture as possible.

Saute the fish in margarine, onions, peppers, celery and mushrooms. Add soup, cheese and wine.

Add the fish, broken into large chunks. Blend gently. Put into casserole dish. Top with buttered crumbs. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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