Original North Carolina Christmas casserole with pineapple and cheddar. Merry Exotic Xmas!

Contains ads for unsweetened pineapple in your own juice

S you are still looking for delicious ideas for your Christmas Menu? Then take a quick look at the south of the United States with me - more specifically, North Carolina. There is a special traditional dish there that can not be missed on any table at Christmas (at least if you are even a bit on edge): the North Carolina Christmas casserole with pineapple and cheddar.

Granted, the whole thing may sound a bit 'disturbing' at first. Many newcomers report that in the beginning they were not at all keen on the exotic specialty from North Carolina. But at the latest after the first feast, it had happened to her: The sweet and salty combination of pineapple with cheese and a crunchy crust is addictive! And it goes perfectly well with Christmas roast poultry, an American Christmas ham - or (crazy!) A vegetarian menu. Think of fluffy mashed potatoes, baked spicy sweet potato wedges, a stuffed pie, hearty salad of winter vegetables, crunchy buns, and North Carolina Christmas casserole. Is that tempting?

Incidentally, the North Carolina Christmas casserole is traditionally made with canned pineapple. That makes it particularly easy and uncomplicated in the preparation. And even in more remote areas of the sparsely populated state, it is pleasingly independent of the hunt for ripe fruit in the supermarket. Very important to the North Carolinian is that the pineapple was unsweetened, so only in its own juice was preserved. You'd better decide for yourself how much sugar will end up in your casserole.

For my casserole, I used the Del Monte pineapple pieces in juice. The list of ingredients is surprisingly short: pineapple and pineapple juice are in the can - and nothing else. Incidentally, since the end of 2015 all Pineapple products from Del Monte have been awarded the Sustainably Grown Certificate, which proves their sustainable cultivation and fair working conditions. The pineapples are grown on their own plantations, where they mature for up to 20 months. Only when they are really ripe, they are picked by hand, picked and processed.

And the other ingredients? For cheese you should put on a good cheddar, which may taste nice and strong. And salt crunchers are used for the crunchy crust. (Small insert: in many crackers, palm oil is processed - even in most traditional American crackers - but in my trusted supermarket I found a variety of rapeseed oil and you might even look for it.)

So, now you know everything. Nothing stands in the way of our exotic Christmas special. Ran to the casserole dishes.There, there, there, there and there too. And there.

The recipe for Original North Carolina Christmas Casserole with Pineapple and Cheddar

Ingredients for 6 servings:
(or more, if you serve many different dishes)

2 cans Pineapple pieces in their own juice,
each weight 560 g (eg from Del Monte)
100 g of sugar
100 g of flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
200 g of cheddar, grated
200g salted crackers
90g butter, melted

And this is how it works:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees top/bottom heat.

Drain the pineapple pieces in a sieve and pat dry with kitchen paper. (Pick up the pineapple juice and use it, for example, for a dessert).

Mix the flour with the baking powder.

Mix the pineapple, sugar, flour with baking powder and cheddar in a casserole dish.

Put salted crackers in a sack or freezer bag, close the top and crumble the crackers. (Let's recall my favorite method: simply beat the bag neatly a few times on the ground, crumble up any resistant pieces with your hands.)

Mix the crumbled crackers in a bowl with the melted butter well. Spread the buttered crackers in a layer on the pineapple and cheese mixture and press lightly.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the casserole bubbles and the crunchy layer is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Americans usually use a lot more sugar than what they say in my recipe. I have adapted the whole thing a bit for the German taste.

If (surprisingly) there is something left over, the casserole can be reheated in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 150 degrees.