As long as I can remember, the potato has been a very important part of our family meals. In fact, no matter how many other side dishes we have, someone always looks for the potatoes.
I like simple dishes, so it is understandable that one of my favorite ways of cooking potatoes is what I call “slice and bake.” Many years ago, when I was working as an accountant at the John Deere dealership in Centre, one of the owners, Frances Allen, made some of the best potatoes for a company meal.
No recipe is needed for this easy potato dish. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered in a large baking pan with lots of melted butter, salt and black pepper on each layer. Covered with foil, the potatoes are then baked until tender. So easy and so good — you have to try this one to truly appreciate it.
Sometimes, when I want these potatoes but don’t want to wait for them to bake in the oven, I will cook a small amount in the microwave. If you do this, don’t use the aluminum foil, of course. Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap.
If you are searching for a new potato dish for your Thanksgiving meal, you might like the following Gourmet Potatoes. I found this recipe in the sixth edition of “Favorite Recipes of Alabama Vocational Home Economics Teachers” cookbook. This is a new version of mashed potatoes with lots of flavor. The fact that it can be frozen is a bonus.
When baking a hash brown casserole, you might like the added flavor of soup. I sometimes use a can of cream of broccoli soup in my hash brown casserole, but there are others that would spark up the flavor also. For a south-of-the-border flavor, try a can of Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup. With this one, you would probably want to reduce the amount of shredded cheese used in the recipe.
6 large potatoes, diced
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion, grated
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 cup cheese, grated (cheese of choice)
Cook potatoes in salted water until tender and drain. Combine potatoes with salt, garlic salt, onion, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Whip until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Place in buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Top with grated cheese (at this point it may be refrigerated overnight, if desired). Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until brown (at this point it is suitable for freezing, after it has cooled).
POTATO BROCCOLI BAKE
4 cups Southern-style frozen hash browns (cubed)
1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
1 can cream of broccoli soup
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese
8 oounces French onion dip (sour cream base)
1 1/2 cups butter-type cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray or butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Pour hash browns into dish and sprinkle bacon over top. In a bowl, combine the soup, cheese and onion dip. Mix well and spoon on top of potatoes. Carefully spread to cover the top. Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter, mixing well. Sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake for about 30 minutes until filling is bubbly and crumbs are golden brown.
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