The Universal Side Dish
It's handy to have a few quick, easy side dishes in your repertoire that are suited for any occasion. This easy hash brown casserole is a perfect example. It's suitable accompaniment to any meal, from a lavish breakfast to a holiday dinner, or you can take it with you to potlucks and socials. The casserole goes together in moments – always a bonus when you're pressed for time – and can even be turned into a full one-dish meal with a few optional add-ins.
Total Time: 1 hour | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 8 or more
- 1 (2 pound) bag frozen hash browns
- 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
- 1 can condensed low-sodium cream soup, undiluted
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups (1/2 pound) shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease or spray a 3-quart casserole dish.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the hash browns, green onions, soup, sour cream and cheese. Toss with a spatula until the ingredients are thoroughly combined, then pour them into the casserole dish. Spread the mixture with your spatula, so it fills the dish evenly and is reasonably smooth on top.
- In a separate bowl, toss the cornflakes and melted butter until the cornflakes are evenly coated. Scatter the cornflakes evenly across the top of the casserole.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the cornflakes are crisp and the casserole is bubbly and thick. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for at least five minutes before serving.
- Almost any "cream of" soup will work in this casserole. Use cream of mushroom, cream of potato, cream of chicken, cream of celery or any other kind you like.
- To serve this casserole as a complete meal, comb your fridge for suitable add-ins. At breakfast time, ham, bacon and sausage are all suitable. For lunch or dinner, you could add browned ground beef, diced ham, shredded rotisserie chicken or similar leftovers. One to 1 1/2 cups each of diced meats and vegetables is about right.
- If you're making the casserole ahead of time to take to a potluck, cook it for just 30 minutes. The filling should still be bubbly, but it won't quite be thickened and the cornflakes won't be crisp. Let it cool for at least an hour, until it's just warm, then cover and refrigerate it immediately. To serve, reheat at 300F to 350F until the cornflakes are crisp and the casserole reaches an internal temperature of at least 165F.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.