One of the most endearing qualities of my Gram was the many ways that she showed that she cared - and that always made an impression! She wasn't loud about it...it was more of a quiet nature with her. Whether someone was celebrating one of life's happy moments, recovering from an illness, or gathering for a memorial service, she ALWAYS brought food. Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes are also commonly known as "Funeral Potatoes", and they are total comfort food, no matter what the occasion.
This easy and Cheesy Hash Brown Potato casserole is so easy to throw together and is always a family favorite for holidays, and probably the most-requested dish for potlucks. Homemade cheese sauce, rather than the usual canned soup recipe, really makes this recipe special, and smoked paprika is my secret weapon for over-the-top wonderful!
These cheesy potatoes began as a family recipe that I've tweaked through the years until it's absolutely perfect. Gram's original recipe had cream of chicken soup and a whole lot of sour cream. Homemade cheese sauce is so easy to make, and is perfect for the tender potatoes and onions. Three types of cheese really ramp up the cheesy factor too!
Some recipes recommend frozen diced hash browns, or even diced hash browns with diced onions and peppers, but through trial and error, and more batches of this than I can court, I have better success with shredded hash browns. The shredded potatoes bake up perfectly and consistently tender, and never "mushy" like diced potatoes will get.
Don't be afraid to add some crumbled bacon or leftover diced ham if you want something even a little bit more special. Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes are also the perfect side dish for meatloaf dinners or alongside a fancy ham dinner.
The buttery cornflake or potato chip topping is the traditional version, but my family also loves it when I use toasted Hawaiian Sweet Roll breadcrumbs. And whatever you do, don't tell anyone about the smoked paprika - it's our little secret!
HASH BROWN POTATOES:
1 (28 to 32 oz.) pkg frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (NOT diced!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
OPTIONAL ADD-INS: crumbled bacon bits or diced ham
6 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (melted)
3 cups crushed corn flakes or crushed kettle-cooked potato chips
¼ cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (trust me on this!)
Fresh parsley or chives
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. Remove hash browns from freezer and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften. Sprinkle flour evenly over the onions and stir until well blended. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture is blended and lump-free.
5. Add the broth and whisk again. Bring mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken, which will take about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and fresh-cracked pepper.
6. Remove from the stove and stir in the cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream, stir until melted and blended.
7. Add the hash brown potatoes and stir until evenly mixed. Spread potato mixture evenly in prepared baking dish.
8. PREPARE TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, crushed corn flakes or potato chips, parmesan and smoked paprika. Stir gently until the topping is evenly coated and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over top of potato mixture.
9. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes (it will take the longer time if your hash browns were completely frozen). Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling around the edges and topping is crispy.
10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving; garnish with fresh snipped parsley or chives; serve hot.
YIELD: 12 servings
Originally posted November 2010, revised and reposted October 2018.
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