Macaroni casserole is a popular dish in Finland, Scandinavia, and the United States. The traditional Finnish version contains macaroni, eggs, and milk, while the American version often includes tuna or ground beef. The dish is also known as makaronilaatikko in Finland and makaronipudding in Sweden.
The term macaroni casserole can be used to describe a traditional Finnish and Scandinavian dish as well as a variety of casseroles that contain macaroni pasta as the main ingredient. The traditional Northern European macaroni casserole typically includes eggs and milk as binding ingredients along with some type of meat for protein. The types of meat used in a traditional casserole vary according to cultural preferences. Other types of macaroni casserole, such as those eaten in the United States, may include a variety of ingredients, sometimes reflecting ethnic influences. Macaroni casseroles that include a certain type of meat are often eaten as a main course for both lunch and dinner, while those that lack meat as an ingredient can instead be treated to a starchy side dish.
Macaroni casserole has a strong presence among traditional Finnish dishes and is known as makaronilaatikko. Sometimes known as Finnish macaroni and cheese, according to some sources the original makaronilaatikko did not contain any cheese or meat and consisted mainly of macaroni pasta, eggs and milk. This dish was then baked, essentially creating a custard. Finnish macaroni casserole now often contains both ground beef and cheese. The Swedish version of this dish is called makaronipudding and can include additions of cheese, leeks and diced ham. The dish is then served with ketchup for dipping.
In other countries, including the United States, macaroni pasta is a common ingredient in various casserole dishes for several reasons, including that it holds sauce well and is easy to break apart with a fork. Many who live in the United States enjoy traditional baked macaroni and cheese, which typically consists of macaroni mixed and cooked with milk, butter, and cheese. In some cases, the makers of these casseroles will add, as the Finns and Scandinavians do, different types of meats to the macaroni and cheese mixture.
A very common type of macaroni casserole in the United States is tuna casserole, which often combines tuna with canned soup, cheese, and sometimes other vegetables. Breadcrumbs or potato chips are then sprinkled over the casserole, which is then cooked. Another traditional macaroni casserole in the United States is American chop suey, which is actually much more influenced by Italian than Chinese cuisine. American chop suey typically consists of cooked macaroni noodles, tomato sauce, and ground beef. These ingredients are combined in a saucepan which is cooked until the ingredients are cooked through.