The Easy Way To Prevent A Greasy Casserole

Whenever the holidays roll around, there are always a few things you can count on. The clocks are set back, cooler weather arrives, and Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" creeps into frequent rotation on radio stations across the nation. With the change in season also comes a shift in culinary mindsets. Starbucks puts its holiday drink menu into full swing, Trader Joe's stocks its shelves with vegan stuffed roast (via Trader Joe's), and home cooks everywhere become poised to impress holiday dinner guests with juicy turkeys, creamy mashed potatoes, and of course, casseroles.

The options for casseroles are endless — green bean casserole, mushroom casserole, ground beef casserole... the list goes on. According to MasterClass, casseroles are defined as layered, one-pot dishes baked with a combination of vegetables, protein, and a starchy binding agent. Although relatively easy to assemble, botching a casserole is just as easy, especially when preparing a meat-based one. Nothing can turn your dinner guests off like a greasy, wet casserole. Luckily, we have one simple hack designed to keep your casserole from falling prey to grease.

Brown the casserole's meat before baking it

Although grease makes for a hearty gravy, it can turn a meat-based dish into a soaked, unappetizing mess. Ever had a too-greasy pizza? No thank you! If you opt for a meat-based casserole during the holiday season, or any time of year for that matter, browning the meat before you assemble and bake the casserole will help prevent excess grease (per All Recipes).

Browning is a cooking method that flash caramelizes meat and literally just browns the surface without cooking it all the way through. According to Great British Chefs, you should always bring your pan to a scorching temperature before adding the meat so the caramelization process begins immediately. If you overcook the meat during the browning process, however, your casserole will end up with bone-dry meat. Baking the casserole is what ultimately cooks the meat all the way through. You'll know the browning process is complete once the meat is seared to a golden brown hue. According to All Recipes, browning the meat before baking helps eliminate excess fat and water that turns into great during the casserole's baking process. Plus, caramelization enhances the flavor of the meat — talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Impress your guests during the holiday season (and year-round) with a perfectly balanced, grease-free casserole.