Glancing at my pantry this past week, I noticed a forgotten bag of Yukon gold potatoes nestled on the shelf.
I pulled it out, nervous for what I’d find, and discovered they were still mostly good but weren’t long for this world, so it was at that moment that I decided potatoes were on that evening’s menu.
Looking through my list of recipes to try, I remembered a simple one that was really just three awesome main ingredients: potatoes, hamburger and cheese.
You can’t go wrong with that combo, in my humble opinion.
The recipe calls for Russet potatoes, but my Yukons worked well, too. I probably used 10 to 12 of them, since they’re smaller, and it decreased my bake time by around 20 minutes, since they cook faster. I also used ground turkey instead of hamburger to make it a bit lighter.
This comes from the website “Genius Kitchen.” You can find it at https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/hamburger-potato-cheese-casserole-187672. I changed up the seasonings just a bit in my version.
Cheesy Hamburger Potato Casserole
- 5 large Russet potatoes sliced about 1/4-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 4 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 pound ground beef or turkey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups milk skim is fine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar shredded (or cheese of your choice)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large skillet, brown the hamburger/turkey. Drain off any excess fat, and mix in the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- In the meantime, place a layer of potato slices in the bottom of a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish with a lid (it’s fine if the potatoes overlap a bit if you have lots).
- Dump half the meat mixture on top of the potatoes and spread it evenly.
- Place another layer of potatoes in the dish and cover with the remaining meat mixture.
- Finish out with a final layer of potatoes.
- Set the dish aside and make your cheese sauce (you can use the same skillet).
- Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour to make a roux and stir for about a minute to cook the flour taste out.
- Add the milk and salt and pepper and whisk to break up any clumps.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to stir regularly to keep the milk from scalding. Once the mixture is thick and bubbling, remove it from heat (mine would not thicken to save my life, so I ended up adding quite a bit more flour, a little at a time, until I got a “sauce” consistency).
- Add the cheese and stir until it is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the cheese sauce over top of the potatoes and meat. Shake the dish a bit to help work the sauce down into the entire dish.
- Place the covered dish in the oven for about 1-1/2 hours, taking the lid off for the last 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender and the top is browned.
This was a very simple recipe and reheated wonderfully as leftovers. If you’re cooking for picky eaters or kiddos, this is a great one to try.
If you’re cooking for a more sophisticated adult palate, you might try adding some more spices to it. Crushed red pepper flakes, minced garlic and a real onion in place of powder, and even some basil or paprika could have taken this to a new level. It’s a pretty blank canvas.
I was just happy to not let a bag of potatoes go to waste, and it was a good reminder that I should peer into the back of my pantry more often. Who knows what other treasures lie within?
This piece first appeared in print on March 21, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.