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Hash browns are shredded potatoes that are either baked or fried until they are golden brown and crispy. A hash brown casserole is made by adding a number of ingredients to these potatoes and then baking them in the oven. Hash brown casserole is normally eaten for breakfast, but could also be enjoyed as a side dish at other meals or during potluck suppers.
A rectangular casserole dish that has been greased or buttered is typically needed for baking this covered dish. Some butter may also be added to the potatoes to keep them from sticking in the pan. A hash brown casserole is normally baked in a moderate oven for around an hour. It could also be prepared by placing the ingredients in a slow cooker on low heat for a longer period of time.
Fresh or frozen hash browns can be used to make this casserole. Usually, those that are frozen do not need to be thawed before being used to make hash brown casserole. It is not important to cook the potatoes first, since this is accomplished by baking them in the oven.
Potatoes are typically added to the dish before adding other ingredients. Most recipes call for sour cream and cheese, but some cooks also like to add a can of creamy chicken soup. Cheddar cheese is normally used, and it could be shredded or in sauce form. Onion is generally used to season the hash brown casserole, and salt and pepper could also be used for flavoring.
Hash brown casserole has a tendency to taste somewhat salty especially when extra salt has been added. The potatoes are normally very crunchy, but the added ingredients tend to make this dish smooth. Most of the time, this dish has a cheesy taste which is flavorful yet not overpowering. This casserole is normally crunchier on top than on the bottom, especially if potato chip crumbs or crushed corn flakes are added during the last few minutes of baking.
Eggs, sausage, or bacon are often served along with this hot dish for breakfast. It is also a popular favorite for brunch or supper along with pancakes or fresh fruit. Many people like to take this casserole along as a dish to pass at social gatherings no matter what meal they are enjoying. Hash brown casserole is usually best eaten while warm, and can be reheated several days after making it.
The nice thing about hashbrown casserole is that it's really versatile. If you don't have cream of chicken soup, you can use cream of mushroom, or cream of whatever. For a little chicken flavor, add some chicken bullion powder and a little poultry seasoning, too. That never hurts. All the potatoes need a fair amount of seasoning, so some poultry seasoning, a little cayenne pepper and some garlic are also good additions, as far as seasoning goes.
I don't make hashbrown casserole often, but when I do, it usually disappears in a hurry. It's kind of addictive that way.
The key to a less-salty result is to use low-sodium cream of chicken soup. It gets the best result, and you can always add a little salt, if necessary.
I always saute onions and mix them with the soup before adding it all to the casserole. I like the extra onion flavor. I also like to top the casserole with panko crumbs mixed with olive oil and black pepper, for a crunchy, light topping. I like that much better than a cheese or buttery cracker topping. I think it complements the heavier filling better.
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