Almost everyone I know loves hash browns. Those little shreds of potato goodness are a time-honored breakfast staple, and a great accompaniment to steaks and other lunch/dinner fare. I still love going to a good diner – a Waffle House® or IHOP® or a good local joint with a name like Nick’s Greasy Spoon or some such – and getting a double order to go with my eggs and bacon and sausage. Smother ’em in onions and fry ’em up extras crispy and step back, Jack! Those taters are mine!
It wasn’t until a few years ago, however, that I came across the idea to use them as a basis for a casserole. I mean, aren’t all casseroles supposed to have noodles? Growing up I thought there was a law about that. Turns out I was wrong, and we’re perfectly legal using hash browns. Who knew?
The recipe below is my adaptation of one that’s been around for at least three or four years. I’ve added onion and bell pepper, and replaced the bags of bacon bits with my own bacon. Yeah, you can do it those little bags of crumbs, but why? It tastes MUCH better with bacon you fry up yourself and crumble up. You could even use some of the bacon fat to grease your baking dish. I’ve done it, and it’s great.
If you’re serving a crowd an early breakfast, you can make it the night before, then heat it in the morning. Just turn on the oven when you turn on the coffee pot. No big deal. But it’s also great for dinner, especially with beef or pork. So don’t just push it to the back of your mind to use on Sundays. Besides, Sundays are for waffles!
So… let’s go have some fun.
32 oz. sour cream (2 16 oz. containers)
2 packages Hidden Valley® Original Ranch dip mix
1/2 lb. bacon
1 medium white onion
1 or 2 red bell peppers (depending on size)
2 cups shredded cheese
1 large bag Ore-Ida® frozen hash brown potatoes
Olive oil or cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine sour cream and dip mix packets. Set aside so they can get to know each other and get happy.
Fry bacon until crispy. Set aside to drain.
While the bacon is frying (or baking!), chop onion and bell pepper. For this recipe, I prefer a pretty fine chop, but not a mince. Not so small that it disappears, but not big chunks, either. You want to be able to see them without them being so big that they take center stage.
Crumble the bacon and add to the bowl. Add chopped onion. Yes, more stirring, more getting happy.
Last, add the hash browns. Stir it all up and let the hash browns get to know their new friends.
Apply a thin coat of olive oil to a 9 x 13 baking dish (or use cooking spray). Pour hash brown mixture into pan and bake at 400° for 45 to 60 minutes. The top should be nicely browned and everything should be all bubbly and happy.
Let sit for at least 5 minutes to cool down enough so as to not melt your guests’ tongues – and that’s always considerate, don’t you think?
I prefer full flavor sour cream and cheese, but you can certainly substitute low-fat, low-calorie versions if you choose. It won’t taste the same, though.
As for cheese, most recipes call for cheddar cheese, but I’ve had excellent results with other varieties, including Monterey Jack, Swiss, Provolone and blends. It really depends on your own taste and, to some extent, the other things on the plate. Try it several ways until you find your favorites.
For some extra kick, you can add some cayenne pepper. You could also substitute Jalapeno slices for the bell pepper. I do that when I’m doing a Mexican theme.
Add a bit of crunch to the top by adding bread crumbs or crumbled French’s® French fried onions. If I do anything, it’s the bread crumbs, but I know lots of folks that love the fried onions.
I love doing individual portions in ramekins (or other small bowl). The last thing I do before serving is to sprinkle a little more cheese on top, then melt and brown it under the broiler for a few minutes. Looks great and I get a lot of Oooo and Aaaahhh comments.
You could also split the recipe into three or four small loaf pans, then freeze them for later consumption.
I have to warn you again: this casserole is addicting. Be very careful, or before you know it, you’ll be serving it for breakfast and dinner every other day. If you find yourself in this situation, send me an email and I’ll connect you with a good rehab center.
Seriously, this is a great recipe. Have fun with it, and don’t forget:
Play with your food!
I have more Breakfast Recipes here.
Did you like this recipe? What recipes would you like to learn? Leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts! (And don’t forget to LIKE this post!) Share it using the tiles below.