Lisa and I both just love Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole. Yesterday I was surfing the ‘Net and stumbled across one of those “copycat recipe” sites. Some of the recipes seemed kind of pointless – why spend $8 making a faux Big Mac at home when you can buy a real one 24 hours a day for $2? But the copycat recipe for the hash brown casserole intrigued me. It’s as simple as can be. It’s cheap to make. And it’s oh so goooood!
The following recipe has been slightly adapted from the one I found online. Lisa doesn’t like mushrooms, so I changed the soup from cream of mushroom to cream of chicken. I also decided to add a “broiler cycle” at the end to make the top of the casserole extra-crunchy. According to the website I snagged the original recipe from, if you want your casserole to be as close to Cracker Barrel’s as possible you’ll need to use Colby cheese and a 50-50 mixture of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup. As it turns out, my use of cream of chicken soup and a Colby\Jack cheese mix came incredibly close anyway.
2 pounds frozen shredded hash browns
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion
1 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 bag shredded cheese (2 cups) (any cheese will do; Colby is the “official” cheese for the recipe)
1 large bowl (I’m talkin’ “punch bowl size” here)
1 spoon or spatula
1 knife or food processor
1 small pot or microwave-safe dish
1 9x13x2″ pan
PAM, or other non-stick spray
1) The hash browns need to be thawed before use; either put them in the refrigerator the night before cooking or put them out on the counter a couple of hours before you plan to make the dish.
2) Move your oven rack to the second row from the top and preheat oven to 350F.
3) Spray the interior of the casserole dish with Pam and set aside.
4) Melt the butter either in the small pot or in the microwave. I actually prefer doing this on the stovetop, as it’s easier to keep an eye on it whilst melting.
5) While butter is melting, finely chop the onion.
6) Combine soup, melted butter, salt, pepper, onions and cheese and mix well. Once this is done, gently mix in the thawed hash browns.
7) Pour mixture into the greased 9×13″ pan.
8) Cook at 350F for around 35 minutes or until the casserole starts bubbling around the edges.
9) Turn the oven to “broil” for 3-5 minutes, or until a good portion of the top of the casserole turns brown.