Friday, December 17, 2010

Hash Brown Potato Casserole

     The humble potato, the starch I love the best. Bread is great, pasta, okay, rice if I have to but I am a farm boy at heart and meat and potatoes are the base for any real meal LOL. Grandpa Fisher would be proud. This recipe comes from a friend Terri, not chicken wing Terri, another one. She brought it to a pot luck we had and graciously shared the recipe.

Hash Brown Potato Casserole
  4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream (250 ml)
1/4 cup melted butter/margarine
1/2 cup sharp cheese grated (1/2 of 227 package)
Let potatoes thaw 1/2 hour
Mix ingredients together and put in greased baking dish
(Can put bread crumbs on top)
Bake 1 hr @ 350
 (serves 6-8 people)

     This is at heart a variation of scalloped potatoes with a lot of the work cut out. I call these types of recipes "quick and dirty". "Quick" because you can make them fast, always good to have a few of these on hand in case unexpected guests drop by. "Dirty" because people will think you spent far more time preparing this delicious dish than you did, your " dirty " kitchen secret. Just sit back and accept the praise, your secret is safe with me. Maybe add a smudge of flour to you hands or face, just to complete the picture. LOL

     For all of you hard core foodies out there who are gasping, he's using "canned soup", well, yes I am. It always makes me laugh that people think if you use canned soups you really don't know how to cook. I'm not a huge fan of cooking with them but I have a few recipes that it really cuts down the prep time and I'm all about that. If you are dead set against it here is what you do.

In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, saute a clove of garlic, minced, and 1/4-1/2 cup of finely chopped celery in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil.

Cook until celery is soft and most of the oil has been absorbed. Remove from pan and set aside.  

Return skillet to medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter, remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of flour, mixing until smooth.

Return to heat and gradually add 1/4 cup of milk whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. When the flour and butter mix is all incorporated and before it has reached the scalding point add an additional cup of milk and 1/4 -1/2 cup of clear chicken stock. If you are using this method, undoubtedly you made the stock yourself.

Add a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Add the reserved celery and garlic and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes until lightly thickened.

You now have a variation of a flavoured Bechamel sauce you can use in this recipe. You don't want to really thicken it like you would a true Bechamel because it will thicken further as it bakes.

Or you can just use the soup, your choice.

     I would imagine you could substitute sliced or cubed fresh potatoes for the frozen hash browns, it cooks about the same time as scalloped potatoes so ... Just test the potatoes with a fork before you serve and adjust your cooking time as necessary.

     However you decide to prepare this, it is definitely worth a try. It is a perfect side to just about any meal. Enjoy.

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