A blast from the past recipe that will fill your belly and comfort all of your food cravings; Shipwreck Casserole Dinner is equally delicious and easy!
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why this dish is called a shipwreck. I did a bit of internet research, but I didn’t pour my whole afternoon into it! For me, the word shipwreck conjures up images of pirate ships broken to bits on the jagged shoreline. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies; who knows?
My quick search resulted in no answers. So, I can logically assume that it’s called a shipwreck dinner, because it looks like a mess! It’s like Christmas lights – you packed them away so nicely and then when you take them out the following Christmas, they’re knotted and bunched.
Like the casserole, traditionally, you would layer the ingredients, but when the dish was ready to serve it still looked a mess once you scooped it out and plated it.
So, I was a rebel. I mixed all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and transferred them to my casserole dish. This way, everyone had a equal amounts of everything. And, I wasn’t disappointed, because I knew going it that it was going to come out looking like a disaster.
But!!!! The taste – oh, the taste! It’s so good. It’s the ultimate comfort food! There’s a little bit of everything for everyone in this dish and you’re going to love it. And it’s so easy too! It’s basically a prep and bake dish, which means less work!
Great news! You can omit and substitute to your hearts content!
If there’s anything in this dish that you don’t care for, then just leave it out. Just be sure to add something else, or increase an existing ingredient in it’s place. If you don’t like celery, leave it out and increase the peppers or onions by the same amount of celery.
I like to use hash browns – not the flat ones like at McDonald’s, but the chunky type you find at Costco. If you don’t have hash browns, you can use the same amount of diced potato.
One time, I was out of tomato soup, so I made this casserole with canned cream of mushroom soup instead. The taste was completely different, of course, but it was completely delicious too!
The same thing goes for the ground beef. If you choose to use something else, you can. You can use ground turkey, ground sausage, or even vegetarian ground beef!
If you use the vegetarian ground beef, you can skip the browning part in the instructions below and just add it right in. It has no grease, so it doesn’t need to be drained, and doesn’t need to be cooked ahead of time.
Properly prepping the vegetables is important!
When chopping, slicing, and dicing, it’s important to cut the vegetables similarly so that they all cook at the same pace. You’ll also want to keep in mind that some vegetables will cook faster than others.
Since this dish is meant to be comforting and home style, we are not too concerned with everything being absolutely perfect. After all, if we were looking for perfection, we wouldn’t find it anywhere in a recipe with shipwreck in the title!
Slice the carrots and the celery thinly, because both of them will take longer than the hash browns and the peppers to cook. The onion will be finely diced. And I like to chop the red and green bell peppers the same size at the hash browns.
Shipwreck Casserole Dinner is a perfect example of the type of meal my mother would prepare back in the 1980s. I remember coming home from school and smelling this dish cooking in the oven when I opened the front. It was certainly a dish she would prepare in the winter months.
This casserole has it all – lots of texture, lots of flavour, lots of vegetables, and lots of protein too! Oh, and the cheese on top, is my addition. My mom never added cheese to her version. Enjoy!
Shipwreck Casserole Dinner
- 2 pounds ground beef, pan fried and drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups frozen hash browns
- 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup instant rice
- 1 can tomato soup, 10 ounces
- 20 ounces water
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes with juice, 28 ounces
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- In a skillet, fry the ground beef with a dash of salt and pepper until cooked all the way through. Drain and discard the grease. Set the beef aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large, deep casserole dish with the olive oil. (The oval baking dish you see in the photographs is 9.5 x 14.5")
- Place all of the ingredients (except the cheese) into a large mixing bowl. Toss well to combine.
- Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 90 minutes.
- Remove casserole from oven and remove the foil. Top the casserole with the shredded cheese and return to oven (uncovered) for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Remove from oven. Allow casserole to rest for 3-5 minutes. Plate and enjoy!