Sausage Casserole

Using a Lipton soup mix.

While the bulk of the casserole is rice, chicken noodle soup mix adds some pasta to the party, creating something that I imagine shares some texture with Rice-a-Roni’s vermicelli. Slightly odd? Maybe, but then, this isn’t the first time Lipton’s chicken noodle soup mix was in the middle of something slightly odd.

As concentrated sources of stored flavor, sausage casseroles proliferated in the early 20th century–not only with rice, but with potatoes, bread stuffing, biscuit crusts, or macaroni. A homemaking piece from the December 3, 1930 edition of the Lowell (Massachusetts) Sun provides some examples:

Bulk sausage often is added to combination dishes to give flavor. Veal birds are made more substantial if sausage is added to the dressing used for stuffing. An excellent “crowd” [sic] roast of pork uses spare-ribs and sausage in place of the more expensive cut from the loin. The ribs are shaped and tied to form the crown, which is filled with sausage.

Combination dishes made with vegetables or cereals and sausage usually are good. Potatoes stuffed with parboiled sausage and the whole baked, sweet potatoes and sausage scalloped together, baked macaroni and sausage, casserole of rice and sausage, sausage in a casing of baking powder biscuit dough, are a few of the many ways it can be used to give variety to winter menus.

(If you want an explanation of 'veal birds,' click here to expand one.)

Veal Birds

Oiseau sans tĂȘte, or headless bird, is a Belgian recipe, but to understand why it exists, you have to start in France, and the outlawed tradition of eating ortolans, little songbirds that are roasted and eaten whole, bones and all. (Yeah, I know. Sorry, there’s really no way to tell this story that isn’t ghoulish.) For events where a number would be consumed, the birds would be arranged on a pair of skewers for easy handling.

Traditional “veal birds” are roulades of pounded veal cutlets rolled around a filling (typically an herb bread stuffing, but any stuffing would qualify), then stuck on the skewers together where they took on the appearance of roasted ortolans.

The recipe made the trip to the United States during the obsession with all things French in the 1960s, even though, as we’ve already covered, it’s not technically French–it just has a Francophone name from its Belgian originators. Then, since the word “oiseau” is basically just a bunch of vowels that sounds awkward in English, it was promptly renamed veal birds for domestic consumption.

Other iterations included sausage, cheese and bean mixtures replicating a skinned burrito or pressing a sausage “crust” into a pan and filling the inside with vegetables or stuffing to make sort of an inverted en croute.

When instant, and then condensed, soup mixes became popular, they were worked into casseroles to form what was perceived as the ultimate convenience food. Then again, here’s a version of the recipe on this card that works very hard to avoid being convenient–this from the June 30, 1975 edition of the Laurel (Mississippi) Leader Call:

Sausage Rice
(Make day ahead. Serves 15)

Brown 3 pounds sausage (2 pounds mild, 1 pound hot). Drain, dry on paper towel. Add to fat in skillet, lightly browning, the following:

1 large diced green pepper
1 large diced onion
3 cups diced celery
1 cup raw rice

Put in roaster and add:

4 packages Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
8 cups water
1 can pimiento, drained and chopped
1 cup slivered almonds
1 large can water chestnuts, cut in thirds
1 can sliced mushrooms.

Mix all ingredients. Bake covered 40 minutes and uncovered 20 minutes at 250 degrees. Stir well 2-3 times while baking. Store overnight. Warm in 3 quart Pyrex baking dish, adding chicken consomme if dry, just before serving.

(No name)

For more on the history of Lipton soups, see the post for chicken with rice from the box from Ceres, California.

From the box of F.J. from Sun City, Arizona. Some cards suggest a family history in Missouri and Kansas.

Sausage Casserole

1 lb. sausage–brown and drain and add following and brown:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/3 bell pepper
  • 2/3 c. celery
  • 1 pkg. Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup dissolved in 2-2/3 c. hot H20.

Add 2/3 c. rice. Put together in cassserole and bake at 350 deg. for 1 hour.

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