There is something so satisfying about a casserole straight from the oven, whether it’s a cheesy lasagna or a savory meat stew topped with mashed potatoes. These homey dishes are perfect for serving a crowd on cool, crisp nights, and most are also easy to make ahead.
We’ve gathered several of our favorites below for your next cozy night in with friends and family. Click here to see them all — and enjoy!
2 lb. (1 kg.) boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm.) chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
8 Tbs. (4 oz./125 g.) unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g.) all-purpose flour
3 1/3 cups (27 fl. oz./840 ml.) beef broth
2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./160 ml.) dry white wine
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
3 lb. (1.5 kg.) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
About 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) heavy cream, warmed
1 cup (5 oz./155 g.) fresh or thawed frozen peas
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Season the lamb with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the lamb, turning, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pot, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, cover and cook, stirring, until the carrots are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the broth and wine. Add the rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Return the lamb to the pot, cover, place in the oven and cook until the lamb is tender, 1 1/2 hours.
About 30 minutes before the lamb is ready, oil a 3-qt. (3-l.) baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain well. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir over medium-low heat for 2 minutes to evaporate the excess moisture. Cut 3 tablespoons of the butter into pieces and add to the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes while adding enough cream to create a smooth texture.
Season the lamb mixture with salt and pepper, stir in the peas, and pour into the prepared dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into bits and use to dot the top. With the oven still at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C), bake until the top is lightly tinged with brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
|Beef, Basil and Goat Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups
Tidy bundles of pasta and filling are easy to dish out to family and friends. Round out the meal with a big green salad, garlic bread and a dry red wine.
|Broccoli Rabe, Pesto and Smoked Mozzarella Strata
Layers of bitter broccoli rabe, egg-soaked sourdough bread, pesto and Italian cheese combine to create this gorgeous cold-weather strata. Serve it as a main course for a weekend brunch.
|Truffled Mac and Cheese
A drizzle of luxurious truffle oil takes traditional mac and cheese to a new level. Individual portions are perfect for a dinner party.
|Puff-Pastry Chicken Potpies
Chicken and vegetables in a velvety sauce tucked under golden, buttery pastry — what could be more comforting?
|Pumpkin Cassoulet with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Garlic
Garlic bread crumbs top a mixture of white beans, tender squash and savory onions in this meatless main dish. Roast the garlic, caramelize the onions and even assemble the cassoulet a day ahead to simplify prep.
|Baked Penne with Lamb, Eggplant and Fontina
This recipe calls for dressing pasta in béchamel sauce before layering with eggplant and a savory lamb ragù, and the cheese forms a golden crust on top after baking.
|Arroz con Pollo
This Latin dish is quick to prepare without skimping on flavor, thanks to additions of roasted bell peppers and saffron. Bonus: the whole dish can be prepared in one pan from start to finish.