Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hash Brown Casserole

Doesn't look like much, does it?
A chicken breast smothered with sour cream and crushed canned onion rings? Yuk.
A piece of white fish with grated carrot and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts? Yuk.
It's actually a potato side dish that's really flavorful. Really decadent.
And did I say easy? Oh, yes.

I had a similar dish at some friends a week or so ago (thanks, Penny, for the idea). I liked her casserole so well that I searched for it on the internet. Found a number of variations, and most of them contain a similar list of ingredients: frozen hash brown potatoes, defrosted, sour cream, chopped onion, cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, grated cheddar or sharp cheddar cheese, potato chips or corn flakes and butter.

I found several versions at http://www.cooks.com/ and finally selected this one because it suggested sharp cheddar cheese, AND it listed a half of a package of dry ranch dressing mix. I also added some fresh rosemary from my garden. I think this casserole needs the sharp cheddar, not mild cheddar, for the extra flavor boost along with the Ranch dressing mix.

Because I'd never made it before, I more or less followed the directions. I did add the rosemary. (We were having barbecued butterflied leg of lamb, so I thought the rosemary would be a nice complement.) I also cooked the onions first, which wasn't mentioned in the original recipe. And I cut down on the amount of butter by about half.

The finished dish was wonderful. Next time I will try it with low-fat sour cream, the reduced fat soup, but I don't think I'll stint on the cheese. It took about 7-8 minutes to put together the ingredients. I finally used my hands to mix it up - it just seemed easier than fumbling with two big spoons. It's a little awkward getting the soup and sour cream to mix in thoroughly. You don't want clumps of condensed soup anywhere. Then you pour it into a casserole dish, add 45 minutes to bake, and it's done. This may have been the first time in my life I ever bought frozen hash browns, but they sure did make it simple. I'll definitely make this again for a big crowd. I doubled the recipe and it served 9 for one meal and probably would serve another 4-6 for another meal.

Hash Brown Casserole
Source: http://www.cooks.com/ with changes
Serves 8

2 pounds frozen hash brown potatoes
6 T. melted butter, divided use
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup Cream of Chicken soup, or Cream or Mushroom
1 pint sour cream
1/2 package powdered Ranch dressing mix
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups crushed potato chips or Corn flakes
(and remainder of butter)

1. Defrost potatoes.
2. Saute the onion in a little olive oil until tender but not browned.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Combine in large mixing bowl the potatoes and half the butter. Add the sour cream, soup, grated cheese, rosemary and Ranch dressing mix. Mix gently but thoroughly without breaking up the potatoes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed (it doesn't need any salt, in my opinion). Pour into a buttered 3 quart casserole. Topping: mix remaining butter with either potato chips or Corn flakes and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are done.
To view a printable recipe, click on title at top.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I made this today for a Xmas breakfast potluck and there were no leftovers! I am saving this recipe and can't wait to try some of your other recipes. Thanks for posting this and making me look like I can actually cook. Susan