Potato Casserole with Sausage and Cheese
Every once in a while, the budget calls for some inexpensive meal nights to try to reign in the finances! This recipe is one my mom used to make when we were growing up, before the days of Pinterest and Google, when home cooks would throw together basic ingredients from the kitchen, and somehow magic would happen! It comes in at well under $10 for the whole meal, and my kids absolutely love it!
As with many budget recipes, it starts off with a pile of caramelized onions. Extremely inexpensive, but so gourmet tasting, once they have cooked for about 20 minutes on low, until soft and sweet. I love to do this in my cast iron pan, as I feel the depth of flavor is intensified.
Meanwhile, take the sausage out of it's casings, and sauté in another fry pan over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon or a potato masher. Cook until just cooked through. Do not overcook this stage, or the meat will become chewy. Drain the sausage well to get rid of the fat. My preference is to use hot Italian sausage for this recipe. I find it gives excellent flavor, and the other ingredients are enough to tame the heat to kid approval!
Of course you could use any flavor sausage (mmm honey garlic might be nice), or even hamburger meat like my mom used to. Just make sure you add enough seasonings so this layer has a lot of flavor. For ground beef, you could add Worcestershire sauce for instance.
If you are going to cook this meal right away, you will want to preheat your oven now to 375F. Find your favorite 9x13 pan, mine is a heavy Denby one we got for our wedding years ago. Spray with cooking spray, and layer the meat on the bottom. Don't worry if there are a few holes. Next top with the onions.
Now for the gadget part. If you have a mandolin, this is a great time to use it. I bought mine at a flea market for $10, and it works very well. It quickly slices the potatoes into even thin slices. Otherwise you can use a knife to get the same effect. Watch your fingers, use the guard!
I like to use Yukon gold, or yellow flesh potatoes. I find they are the most versatile, so stock up when they are on sale. I bought 10lb bag for $1.99. Put the potatoes in a bowl, and stir the can of mushroom soup until the potatoes are well covered.
Carefully layer the potatoes evenly over the meat/onion mixture. A grind of pepper over top is nice here.
Now for the fun part. Grate a cup or slightly more of your favorite cheese to finish the last layer. I used sharp cheddar, but Swiss or provolone would work well too. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes covered, and 15 minutes with the foil removed to brown the top.
The dish can be prepared to this point, and covered an refrigerated to cook later in the day. Just add a few minutes to the cooking time if starting from the fridge.
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 8 hot italian sausages, casings removed
- 4 large yellow flesh potatoes
- 1 can cream mushroom soup
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- Thinly slice the onions, and cook on medium low in a fry pan with a teaspoon of oil, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until soft and brown.
- Meanwhile, cook sausage in another fry pan over medium heat, breaking up with a fork, just until cooked through.
- Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and layer the well drained sausage on the bottom, followed by the onions. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Thinly slice the potatoes (leave the skin on if desired), and transfer them to a bowl. Toss with the can of cream of mushroom soup. Layer on top of the onion mixture
- Top with cheese, and tightly cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes longer until the cheese is brown, and the potatoes are cooked through when poked with a knife. Let rest a few minutes, then cut with a knife like you would a lasagna, and use a spatula to carefully lift out the pieces.