Your Casserole Could Probably Benefit From Some Sour Cream

Vegetable casserole on white background
Vegetable casserole on white background - Erhan Inga/Shutterstock

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There are plenty of tricks to making the perfect casserole. Surprisingly, a "casserole" is actually in reference to the type of dish this meal is baked in -- known as a casserole dish. You can fill your casserole dish with anything you'd like, but it often includes some sort of dairy-based binder. It might be cheese sauce, béchamel, or in the case of green bean casserole, a creamy can of soup. But if you're looking for tangy richness in your next casserole, you could be missing one important element: sour cream.

Sour cream is similar to cream cheese in its texture and tang, but it takes that slightly pungent flavor even further with its hint of sour notes. When combined with other dairy ingredients, such as rich cream and sharp cheese, it makes for a perfect flavor combination that's just waiting to be baked into your next one-dish meal.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Amp Up Your Casserole With Sour Cream

Sour cream alongside dairy products
Sour cream alongside dairy products - Goskova Tatiana/Shutterstock

Sour cream is an easy way to balance your casserole's flavors without altering the texture. Typically, when a recipe's flavor is too rich, it's balanced with some acidity, such as lemon juice or vinegar. But since adding lemon juice or vinegar to your hearty casserole likely won't create the best texture, sour cream does the trick. It keeps that creamy feel you're looking for and doesn't lean too far into sour territory. At the same time, it cuts that deeply rich flavor you get from heavy cream or certain cheeses. And you can even make your own sour cream for the best flavor.

If you're layering the casserole, you can add the sour cream in as its own thin layer. If you're preparing a cream-based sauce, add the sour cream to the sauce. You can use reduced-fat sour cream or even fat-free, but keep in mind that the dish will be richer and creamier with full-fat sour cream.

Essential Elements To The Best Casserole

Cauliflower casserole in yellow dish
Cauliflower casserole in yellow dish - Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

There are hundreds of ways to make a casserole. You can make it with or without meat, but if you want a protein ingredient that won't heavily impact the other flavors, try using shredded chicken or turkey. The mild flavor of each means that it will pair with almost any other ingredients.

In addition to the creamy elements, you might want to bring in some crunch. The varying texture is needed, especially if the dish consists of mostly soft ingredients, like creamed soup and noodles. Green bean casserole, for example, is often topped with fried onions. For a salty topping, try crumbled bacon, and for a well-seasoned crunch, add some Italian-style panko. Topping the casserole with a little cheese before baking it is also a good idea; the cheese will get crispy while exposed to the heat. Plus, since sour cream has a pretty mild tang, it will still pair well with all of these ingredients.

Casseroles typically contain dairy ingredients, meaning they won't last forever in the refrigerator. Consume the casserole within about four days for the best flavor. Most casseroles freeze well, too: Simply remove it from the casserole dish and place it in a freezer-safe container -- it will keep for up to six months.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.