Some things come out of nowhere and lay you flat. My mom passed away a month ago. Many people have asked if she had been ill or otherwise wanted to know if it was expected or unexpected. After losing a few people I can say, you never expect it. Not even when you know they are not well, not even if the doctors have given you a short prognosis, as they did with my father, even if you think you have prepared your self for the eventuality, even if your on pretty good terms with death, you never really expect them to die. It’s an abstract thought, until it isn’t. When the death is somewhat unexpected, she was ill but was recovering and had been released from the hospital, it is even harder.
I had not heard of this dish until last summer. I worked with several people that were familiar with it and it came up in conversation several times. I knew just from the sound of it, that it would be something my family would love. Mom loved potatoes. I’m pretty sure there were very few days of her adult life that did not contain potatoes. Just about any combination of dairy product and potato made them even better in her book.
There seem to be as many incarnations of this recipe as there are families that make it but the base seems to be diced or shredded potatoes, a thick cream sauce, and cheese. I decided to add sautéed onions and garlic because most entrees should have onions and garlic, two more of Mom’s favorites. And just to shove it completely over the top, I added bacon. The bacon is an excellent touch, it infused the whole dish and gave it that smoky, bacony something extra.
The name completely throws people. I took this to a gathering a few days after the funeral and people really hesitated when I told them what it was called. So, you might want to refer to it as simply a Potato Casserole or even a Cheesy Bacon Potato Casserole. But it serves its function well under the original name for it is a carb heavy, fatty comfort food, something you desperately need when things have fallen down around you.
The leftovers were excellent with an over-medium fried egg, ‘cause that’s the way Mom liked her fried eggs, for breakfast. Don’t forget to add some fruit so you can pretend you’re eating a well-rounded meal.
So, because Mom would have loved them…
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
10 ¾ oz. can Cream of Chicken (or any other kind) condensed soup
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
½ cup milk
1 cup yogurt
Salt & pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. bacon, cooked & diced
28 oz. package O’Brien hash browns, thawed
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft. Set aside to cool
Combine the onion garlic mixture, soup, 4 Tbsp. butter, parsley, milk, yogurt, salt, pepper, and cheese in a mixing bowl. Add the bacon and hash browns, mix well, and transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 greased baking pan.
Mix the bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp. melted butter and sprinkle over the potato mixture. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese evenly over the top.
Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and hot and bubbly all the way to the center. Enjoy!