2018-02-08 / Life in Leelanau

Put some palate-pleasing opossum in your casserole

Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Every family has initiation rites for people looking to marry into the family. Mine was no different.

When Joe and I were courting, we made a visit to my uncle and aunt, Jim and Dort Belanger, at their Schomberg Road home.

Uncle Jim was a jokester. He took the lead on shenanigans. Aunt Dort was pretty quiet, but pulled her weight as a supporting character in the joke.

As we talked, they asked if we wanted to stay for dinner and we accepted the invitation.

This was before we knew that the menu included something we’d never eaten before: “opossum innards.”

A child of the Depression, I knew my uncle was the oldest of eight Belanger children orphaned when my grandmother died in 1930.

Times were tough. Lord knows what they had to eat then. But opossum innards?

Joe was eager to impress and not offend. But he’d probably admit there was some trepidation as Aunt Dort pulled her casserole dish out of the oven.

There are no entrails in the dish, although the great northern beans in the recipe could be mistaken for them.

Opossum innards is a dish that can be made with ingredients found in most any kitchen.

I conferred with my cousin Donna Hughes of Lake Leelanau who said the recipe didn’t originate with her mom, but was from our common aunt Geri Belanger, also of Lake Leelanau.

The recipe lives on in her family and mine as we share a warm meal with our kids and think of the fun we had with Jim and Dort who have long-since passed.

Opossum Innards

ground beef, browned
sliced potatoes
chopped onion
1 jar great northern beans
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer beef, potatoes and onion in a casserole dish. Poor beans over the top. Mix a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup with a little water and pour it over the meat, potato, bean mixture.

Cover with foil and cook for about an hour at 350 degrees.

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