In my family not a holiday or gathering can go by without the essential dish of cheesy potatoes, I even make a breakfast version for Christmas morning. And I consider this one of my safe "go-to" dishes for just about any occasion since it has a good "universal" appeal (who doesn't love cheese and potatoes? and together - even better!), travels easily, and pairs well with everything from grilled burgers to spiral sliced ham. I had modified my mom's recipe that we had growing up and have been happily toting and serving this simply delicious side for years. That is, until I came across a disturbing discovery when preparing it to take to a friend's house last Summer: it's dripping with gluten! Now, don't get me wrong, I love gluten. Really, I do. Some of the best things to eat are filled with gluten. But some of the people at the gathering were gluten free, including one of the children who has severe reactions and can not eat anything that has even come in contact with gluten. So what was I going to bring?! First I panicked. Then I panicked some more. And finally I thought - I can fix this - and headed out to the store, on a mission for gluten free foods.
Have I mentioned that I am stubborn? I didn't change dishes to bring something that is easily gluten free, nope not me, I instead insisted on recreating this dish sans-gluten. Much to my husband's relief, I was able to find some pretty awesome gluten free products out there. The first time I made this I was unable to find gluten free condensed soup, so I had to use regular gluten free "creamy" soup - if this happens to you, you'll need to adjust for the extra liquid by cutting down the amount of soup and sour cream a bit. Now this last weekend when I was once again shopping for the gluten free components I saw something that almost made me shout for joy right there in the grocery store but, as I'm sure my husband is grateful for, I restrained myself. Right there on the shelf was a brand new product - gluten free condensed soup! Perfect! Now my previously perfected potatoes can be enjoyed by all, well except the lactose intolerant - sorry, there's not much I can do about that, they are "cheesy" after all... So I rushed home with my find and happily set to work.
The ingredient list may look complicated but it really isn't bad, I just added some notes to help you ensure that gluten doesn't try to sneak in without you noticing.
- Hashbrown Potatoes - cubed, 16oz (check the package to ensure gluten free, several brands of "plain" cubed hashbrowns are naturally gluten free)
- Cream of Chicken Soup - 1 carton condensed, gluten free
- Sour Cream - 8oz
- Chedder/Monteryjack Cheese - 16oz, shredded (check package to ensure gluten free since some brands add ingredients to help keep it from sticking, if in doubt buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself)
- butter - melted, 1/4 stick (or 1/8 cup)
Preheat oven to 325°
1. In a large bowl mix the soup, sour cream, 12oz of cheese, and butter until consistent throughout. Add some additional spices at this time if you like (dried minced onion, poultry seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper, etc. Just make sure they are gluten free if they are blends or all this "hard" work will go to waste!)
2. Add the thawed hashbrowns and stir until completely coated.
3. Dump the mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese
4. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool for 5-10 min before serving to give the cheese a chance to rest.
And there it is! An easy version of cheesy potatoes fit for the gluten free crowd. Unfortunately I do not have any photos from after it was cooked, it went too fast! The kid that was highly sensitive to gluten was going back for a second serving before I even managed to take a second bite. It feels great to be able to share my love of cooking and to bring something to the table to share with my friends and their families that they can enjoy even with a few dietary restrictions. As always, I fully encourage embracing this recipe and making it your own by adding your personal flavors and touches, just use caution and be aware of any extra ingredients if you are trying to stay gluten free.
If you are a gluten lover there's no need for the specialty ingredients, and in that case I highly recommend sprinkling some Italian bread crumbs and Panko on top. Maybe then drizzle with a bit of melted butter..
But however you take it, I hope you enjoy it and welcome this dish or one of it's cousins to your next gathering. I know we will! Enjoy!