My next-door neighbor and I were talking about food needs a day or so ago – neighbor, who is actually the niece of a long-time neighbor come to Texas to take care of her aunt, a lovely woman who is slowly devolving into age-related dementia – and I were talking about cheap eats. Neighbor-niece thinks the world of us, as we have shared many dishes with her. I talked for a bit about the Boston Baked Beans recipe that I did a couple of days ago and recalled this favorite from my mother’s repertoire. I think that it must be a genuine Depression-era recipe, as Mom said that it had been a feature on Granny Jessie’s table in the 1930s and 1940s, when money was short and main dishes were preferred to be simple, wholesome, and tempting to the appetites of working men and hungry teenagers, especially Grandpa Jim who was the most unadventurous man in the West of the world when it came to culinary experimentation – and above all, filling. We ate it when Dad was in grad school on the GI Bill, and long afterwards, because Mom had a house of hungry teenagers.


1 larghish potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1 similarly largish onion, also thinly sliced.

1 cup white rice, rinsed and drained (although brown would likely work as well.)

1 lb lean ground hamburger, crumbled (or really, any ground meat. I think chicken or turkey would work well for this; pork might be too fatty.)

1 14-oz can tomato sauce.

Salt and pepper. Really daring – maybe thyme and oregano; a light sprinkle over each finished layer.

Layer potato, rice, onions, crumbled meat in a casserole; two or three layers of each – Mom used a enameled 2 or 3 quart enameled number, porcelain-covered cast iron, with a cover.

Pour tomato sauce over all. Fill up can with water – hey, beef broth for extra punch – pour over top of the casserole. Cover and bake until potato layer is tender, and beef is cooked.

And that’s it. Simple, filling and inexpensive – although ground beef may verge on the pricy these days.


  1. This sounds as though it could come in handy in the not-too-distant future. And I like this sort of thing. Will bookmark this one.

    Also I loved the kitty pics recently shared by our mutual friend. I hope they are doing well!

    • The kittens are doing well – more pictures to follow. Their ride supposedly is arriving next week, for final delivery to the mutual friend.

      The casserole is really good – filling, and yes, it would work well, in the not-to-distant future, although a little short on the green veg content.

  2. The Home Economics department at my university operated a cafeteria with student employees. I recall being served a casserole that might qualify as a vegetarian version:

    It definitely had the white rice, salt & pepper and a little liquid, probably an onion and it might have even included grated potato or potato flakes, but instead of meat it substituted grated carrots and grated cheddar or American cheese. It was not layered though, and I don’t recall any added topping.