Monday, April 7, 2014

Joey's OMG Good Hash Brown Casserole

 The original inspiration for this recipe happened about a year before it finally came to be. My nephew, Daniel, made a hash brown casserole for my family's Easter Brunch and I loved it from the first bite. So I made a mental note to come back and revisit this idea some time. Cut to a year later and I'm just now getting back to it! So here we go.
   I did some browsing and looked up a few recipes here and there. I guess I reviewed about 10 recipes and there was one recipe that I kept finding. It was on all kinds of cooking websites as well as social media. I mentioned it to Daniel and he told me it was almost exactly the same recipe he had made for our brunch. Great! I'll give it a go! Lots of potatoes and cheese and butter and what's not to love?? Right? WRONG. It wasn't working for me. I mean, yeah, it was good and all, but it just wasn't what I remembered, and it wasn't OMG good. Know what I mean?
  Back to the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen....
  I pulled the recipe apart to decide what I liked and didn't like about the recipe. Well, for one thing, I didn't like the flavor. It was a little too bland, and merely adding salt wasn't the answer. And it definitely needed to be creamier. I wanted it to be warm and comforting.
  Next change: The butter. It was WAY too much and it made the dish FAR too heavy. So much so that I decided to completely omit it from the recipe. It really wasn't needed! Then I figured it need a little texture, so I decided to add the crushed potato chips for the top. At first I was gonna do the usual buttered bread crumbs like any other gratin, but then I thought "well, it's a potato dish, right? Why not use crushed potato chips?" Perfect. Then I swapped out a few ingredients, changed a few amounts, and I think we've finally reached OMG GOODness!
 I told Daniel about it and he immediately thought it sounded perfect to serve with ham. Great idea! Without realizing it, I took a brunch menu item and turned it into a new potato side dish for any meal, not just breakfast. It's perfect to serve with any Sunday dinner and it's even good enough to serve with your Holiday Ham! Think of it sort of like this: if Mac 'n' Cheese and Hash Browns had a baby, it would be this casserole. So, wherever you'd serve mac 'n' cheese, you can serve this instead! It's just what I wanted. It's easy and warm and delicious and comforting and not heavy and absolutely OMG GOOD!!

1 small onion, minced
1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 32oz bag hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup crushed potato chips

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Spray a 3 qt casserole dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients except the potato chips. Place potato mixture in prepared casserole dish and bake uncovered in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle chips over the top. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until golden and bubbly.

You can use either the diced hash browns or the shredded ones. Either one will work!
Don't like cream of chicken soup? Try a different cream soup such as cream of mushroom or cream of celery.
This recipe would also work really well with other additions, such as browned and crumbled bacon or sausage or ground beef. You can also turn it into a one dish dinner by adding shredded chicken and any kind of veggies. Broccoli, asparagus, peas, all perfect.
You can use all low fat ingredients, but frankly, if I'm trying to cut down on fat, I'd probably just try a different recipe altogether. Just sayin!

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