White Trash Food: A Guilty Pleasure. White Trash Motherlode 3 ways

November 9, 2013

Admit it, readers. You eat white trash food.

You eat it and you guiltily, secretly like it– especially if you are, as I am, a child of the early 1970’s. The early 1970’s were the golden reign of food a’la white trash. Our mothers would spend all day marching at anti-war rallies and burning bras and then they’d come home, spritz themselves with Charlie, throw some shit in a pan, add a couple of diluted cans Campbell’s soup, top it with a starch and BAMMO! Dinner was served. If dinner was fancy that night, you maybe got a casserole with the crumbled potato chips on top. Hoo-boy. That was good eatin’.

Casseroles are the food of my youth and a while ago, I was visiting my parents snooping through my parents’ shit and discovered some old church cookbooks, circa Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1970’s. In other words: the White Trash Motherlode. I immediately borrowed pilfered the cookbooks, dragged them home, and greeted my husband with buoyant glee.

“Dude! ” I cackled, bursting into his study and waving the tomes in the air. “Look what I found at Mama and Daddy’s! White Trash Cookbooks! These are seriously awesome. Listen to some of these recipes: “Mystery Ring.  Salmon Noodle Loaf. Venison Mincemeat. Chinese Stroganoff!” I think I did a little jig around the room.

My husband turned to me, raising an eyebrow. “Only you would be this excited about this development.” And turned back to his work. Hmph.

The only leetle problem with the White Trash MotherLode books was that my family won’t touch a casserole. Even my husband, a product of the 1970’s himself. It’s criminal.

But, fear not, white trash lovers. This flooding has resulted in so many families in need–families without heat, families without kitchen appliances, families without electricity–that a comforting, cheese-laden casserole is now a thing of beauty. A gift!

How drastic a change can come with just a twist of the supply/demand machine, eh?

I was leafing through my WTM books yesterday and came to a realization: there are actually levels of trashery.

No, I’m serious.

There is all-and-all, no holds barred trashery.


Chicken Supreme (2 quart pan)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken with rice soup
3 (5-oz) cans tinned chicken
1 (3-oz) can chow mein noodles
Stir all ingredients together in pan and bake for 1/2 hour. Serves 4.



This is the trashiest form of Trash: Tinned meat, 3 kinds of soup, no vegetable in sight, and no cooking necessary beyond heating the glop up. This is rank stuff, people.

Then, if you can possibly manage cooking a noodle or buying a rotisserie chicken or adding a vegetable of some kind, you have mid-level Trash:


Chicken Spaghetti (serves 8)

  • Meat from one rotisserie chicken, shredded

1 pond diced bacon
1 chopped onion
2 pounds tomatoes,undrained
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 cup pitted sliced olived (black or green)
1 pound cooked spaghetti
2 cups grated cheddar
2 cups finely diced Velveeta cheese

Fry bacon in a large skillet until brown and remove with a slotted spoon. Save all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease for another use. Add onions to 2 tablespoons grease remaining in pan and brown. Add bacon bits, tomatoes, mushroom and olives and simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken to the pan and warm through, about 5 minutes. Butter a large casserole and layer the spaghetti, chicken mixture and cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees. Kids love it–great for potlucks.

Now this ^ is only mid-level trashery because you have to cook bacon and onions, and there’s tomato in the whole business, and only half of the cheese is Velveeta. Plus, you have to boil the spaghetti which is an extra step as is layering in the pan. Scoff ALL you want, readers, but this is white trash greatness and I scarfed platefuls of this as a child at many a potluck. It is crack.


Finally, we enter the Upper-Level Trash.


Chicken Florentine with Bow Ties (serves 8)

Meat from one rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 finely diced onion
1 pound cooked bow-tie pasta
Cheese Sauce:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a large buttered casserole, layer chicken, diced onion and spinach with cooked pasta. Make cheese sauce (excluding parmesan): Melt butter, add flour and salt and pepper until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until smooth and thickened. Pour over chicken and pasta mixture. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.


Why this  ^ is an upgrade: Fancy pasta, cooked sauce, real cheese, parmesan, spinach.

This be good.

Trashy but good. Serve to nice, hungry people.


This is flood victim-worthy. And family worthy. If you are casserole people, try this.

AND NO I DO  NOT HAVE A PHOTO OF THIS!  Casseroles be ugly. But dee-lish in the best trashy sense. I served this up in White Trash Glory.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey November 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I love this. I’m a big casserole lover myself!!


Tammy November 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Who doesn’t like casserole?!?!?!? There must be something wrong with them!

Those look like some good eating – not at all healthy, but good eating nonetheless!


Katybeth November 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I think I ‘ve had all of these and not too long ago made a casserole topped with potato chips which surely qualifies as white trash food. It was very good.
You deserve a medal for indulging picky eaters they would starve in my house.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me November 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Casseroles are awesome. Period. Anybody who grew up in the 70s knows this. Nothing cracks me up more than people way younger than I who have no idea what I’m talking about.

Of course, then after the long silence filled with cricket chirping that it means I’m older than I’m willing to admit.


Privilege of Parenting November 9, 2013 at 10:56 pm

My vote is go upper level and then… add the crumbled potato chips.

Hugs in the inward turning season :)


Alison November 10, 2013 at 7:41 am

Chicken Supreme sounds so gross. :)


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes November 10, 2013 at 8:15 am

Levels of trashyness… who knew…


Woo Brower November 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

Growing up in a Korean household, our vegetables were either fresh or kimchi’ed. Casseroles were something I ate at my friends’ houses. I reveled in their starchy, salty, cheesey glory…and wondered why we couldn’t be as classy as those families.

In college, I experienced Chicken Divan. One of my roommates made it with frozen chopped broccoli, cooked chopped chicken breast, curry powder mixed with a can of Campbells Cream of Something and a can of Cream of Something Else. I think rice was involved, but I don’t remember if it baked together or was served over rice. From this recipe you may have guessed I had a pretty fancy roommate.


Dana Talusani November 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

That is chicken divan! I plan on treating you to a recipe for Chicken “Divine” soon!


S in AK November 10, 2013 at 9:48 am

You grew up in Nodakota, yet you call them casseroles? I believe “Hot Dish” is the proper terminology, isn’t it?

I’m pretty lucky because my whole family loves a nice, cheesy casserole. The only down side to that is there are never any leftovers. Thanks for sharing your finds.


Dana Talusani November 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

S in AK–yes! Many folks in Dakota refer to it as a hot dish !Weirdo, since there are no cold casseroles… :)


Nicole November 11, 2013 at 7:17 am

“Hot dish,” as opposed to “cold dish,” as in “Which type of dish are you bringing to the church/templar/community pot luck?” Our lake house association had a pot luck every summer Saturday. Every. Summer. Saturday. And skirts were required. I think there were several Chicken Supremes.


Biz November 11, 2013 at 7:31 am

Yes, I too grew up in the early 70’s, and I am quite sure I gave had all of those white trash meals at church pot lucks! And the do be tasty!


Naptimewriting November 12, 2013 at 12:27 am

I guarantee my mother made the Chicken Supreme at least once a month. She was raised by Depression-Era believers in Campbell’s as Sauce God.


[Also, thank goodness I don’t eat meat anymore, or I’d whump up a mess of Chicken Supreme right now. Because salty and creamy comfort food? Hells yeah!]


Erica November 12, 2013 at 7:07 am

My favorite was a meat-lover’s dream! Baked Bean Casserole. Browned ground beef, cooked bacon, and canned baked beans all baked in a casserole and then served over a slice of white bread. I could really go for a scoop of that right now.

For whatever reason, my mother never made a casserole that included a can of soup. I never knew such a thing existed until college.


Jamie November 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Oh man did I love this post. My mama was born in 1949—she can cook up a MEAN casserole. My personal fav is “Chicken Alouette,” featuring shredded chicken, cans upon cans of cream of mushroom soup (don’t even try any other brand than Cambells), a tub of fancy pants Alouette cheese, topped off with a package of Stoffers stove top stuffing.

It tastes like rainbows and unicorns and you need to try it.


elizabeth November 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I have no problem with WTM casseroles: they are nourishing, oftentimes cheap, and sometimes all anyone wants to do is dive into a pan of salty, cheesy, starchy goodness.

I take issue, however, with this being shown on the Food Network as a legitimate, even “original” recipe by the Presenter Who Will Go Unnamed.


Jennifer November 14, 2013 at 10:59 am

I have two church cookbooks from the 90s from my grandmother’s church. They are my two most favorite cookbooks in the whole world. Between recipes much like these you’ll find the how to make real homemade chicken and dumplings (boil a hen, not a chicken, a HEN) and other super yummy things. Also? I would eat the hell out of the second and third recipes (even thought that isn’t how I make chicken spaghetti. Get thee back olives!)


Dawn November 19, 2013 at 8:07 am

My family loves casseroles and I have made an effort to re-create some of our favorites with real food. For instance, tuna casserole made with real mushrooms and a buttermilk-based sauce instead of cream of mushroom soup (In fact, I will be making it tonight, except it’ll be chicken because I’ve got 1/2 of a roast chicken to use up and sour cream because I have no buttermilk) but they have staunchly resisted every effort to “fix” green bean casserole! It is simply not right if not made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, canned beans and deep fried onions. Fresh mushrooms ruins it, but not as completely as fresh beans. And no special occasion is special without green bean casserole.


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