Thursday, June 27, 2013

Potluck & Variations

This is a profile of one super easy, really successful “Covered Dish” or “Potluck” dinner casserole. It takes just a few minutes to put together, and ingredients are easily found at (just about) any grocery store. The base is frozen hash brown potatoes, the kind that come cubed in a bag.

For the most part, I like to feature recipes that work mostly “from scratch”. However, the point here is to offer an idea that can be thrown together quickly and easily. It also has a lot of leeway so you can use what’s in the cupboard.

 Basic Hash Brown Casserole:

  •  One bag frozen hash brown potatoes
              (cube style recommended, though grated could work)
  • 1 can “Cream of” soup :
              i.e. Cream of Mushroom, Broccoli, Celery, Chicken, etc.
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheese, sharp cheddar recommended.

Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan. Mix together all ingredients except ½ cup grated cheese. This can be achieved in the pan but is easier in a bowl. Bake at 350° F/175° C  for 45 minutes. One way to tell the casserole is done is when it bubbles slightly in the center. Top with the remaining cheese and put back in the oven until it melts.

The casserole can be made up ahead of time to pop in the oven later. It isn’t necessary to wait to put the cheese on top, but if you do wait, you get more even results.


Now for variations on a theme:


Diced vegetables can really add flavor to the casserole: Broccoli, mushrooms, green peas, peppers, tomatoes, go wild. You’re only limited by your imagination and how much the pan will hold.

You can also add some diced ham or chicken (fully cooked), or some browned hamburger. Combine this with some veggies in the casserole, and you have a one-pan meal.

Reduce the amount of potatoes to balance the additions for best sauce-to-stuff ratio.

This recipe is perfect for customization. Use what you like, add herbs & spices, experiment. Make it yours.


Variation: Seafood Casserole


Again, the point here is not “authenticity” but quick, easy, & affordable.

  • 1 package faux crabmeat, cut in small chunks.
  • 1- 6 oz. can shrimp
  • 1 small can crabmeat (if you feel like going wild)
  • 1 can Cream of Shrimp soup
  • 1 ¾  cup grated cheese
  • 1 or 2 oz. Swiss cheese cut into small pieces.
              (Important. It adds some “edge” that gives the casserole a nice “bisque” flavor.)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ bag frozen hash brown potatoes

Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan. Mix ingredients together, reserving ½ cup grated cheese for topping. This can be achieved in the pan but is easier in a bowl. Bake at 350° F/175° C for 45 minutes.

If you want to use fresh seafood, go for it. Just make sure everything is fully cooked.

There you have it. Fast, easy, crowd pleasing.

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