Friday, January 31, 2014

Potato Casserole Revisited

by Sheila Connolly

Some years ago when we visited one of my husband’s sisters, who lives in Indiana, she served us a potato casserole that our daughter fell in love with.  She requested it often while she still lived at home, and even now and then when she visits.

It’s one of those quick and easy recipes that everyone seems to have come across at some point—my sister (in Kentucky) knew of it, and one of our guest bloggers offered it up here a couple of years ago.

The ingredients are few: a bag of frozen hash brown potatoes, canned cream of chicken soup, chopped onion, sour cream, a bag of shredded cheese, salt and pepper and margarine, topped with crushed corn flakes. 

A good family side-dish, but then I started thinking . . . it’s just the two of us at home now, and I’m not in any hurry to get dinner on the table. Plus I enjoy cooking, after a day spent staring at my computer screen.  So I wondered:  what if I deconstruct the recipe and make it high-end? Just a bit more elegant?  So I gave it a try. 

You can give it a fancy name if you like, such as Gratin de Pommes de Terre

One pound waxy potatoes, shredded
2 Tblsp butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 Tblsp flour
1 1/2 cups liquid: milk/cream and chicken stock, combined
5 oz. cheese, shredded (cheddar is simplest, but you can be creative or use whatever you have)
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread/panko crumbs for topping (about 1 cup?), plus additional butter if you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a casserole dish.

Potatoes, shredded
You can shred the potatoes by hand or use the shredding blade of a food processor. The shreds should be fairly fine. The same for the cheese.

Cheddar cheese, shredded
To make the sauce:  melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat and saute the shallots until they are soft.  Add the flour and mix, then let cook for a minute or so. Pour in the milk/cream combined with chicken stock, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.  Cook over low heat just until it begins to thicken.
Shallots in butter

...with flour added...

and sauce, completed

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, the sauce, the shredded cheese, and salt and pepper, and mix well.  Spoon into the casserole dish and sprinkle the top with dry bread crumbs or panko (depending on how much crunch you want). Dot with additional butter if you wish.

Ready for the oven (with a bit of
melted butter drizzled on top
Bake for one hour in the preheated oven, until the crust is golden.

Golden brown and crunchy!
Serves four as a side dish, but can easily be doubled for a larger crowd.

And nice and creamy inside

By the way, there's this new book coming out next Tuesday (along with a lot of other great ones, including some of my fellow authors here at MLK). There are potatoes in this dish, so I guess that qualifies it as an Irish recipe, right?

Or I could call it Mhias Prátaí le cáis.


  1. I love the fact that you took a tasty, but not very healthful, recipe and revamped it. I bet this tastes great, whether you eat it with a French accent or an Irish brogue!

  2. This reminds me of noted chef Marco Pierre White's steakhouse in Dublin, where my husband and I ate in November. One of his signature dishes there is his rice pudding. Yup, plain old rice pudding--but it's excellent. Simple can be good if done well (with plenty of cream!).

  3. Sheila, it looks lovely. And the fancy name. Doesn't that make it simply taste better? Wishing you a great launch!

    Daryl / Avery

  4. Comfort food is always a crowd pleaser. Here in New York, chefs are finding upscale ways to make mac and cheese, so your clever, high-end reinterpretation of a quick potato casserole is very much in style. Thanks, Sheila.

    ~ Cleo

  5. Sheila, I love the way you prepared this in a shallow casserole. That way you get lots of the delicious crunchy topping. This recipe is a keeper!

  6. I think this sounds much better than the original recipe. We're big on potatoes around here, so this is going on the list of recipe to try!