Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Potato Cheeseburger Casserole

I debated whether to share this recipe today, or another cookie recipe. But, since I haven't been able to stop thinking about how good and simple this meal was I think I'll share this one first. :)
   This casserole was inspire by Trisha Yearwood's Potato Beef Casserole. I watched her make it on the Food Network and thought it looked good, but that I could tweak it to be a little better. The outcome was a complete success. The children raved and all asked for seconds. It's basically sliced potatoes smothered with a ground beef and cheese sauce and topped with fried onions. YUM!
   Here's how it starts:
Peel, rinse and slice 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of Russet potatoes. (That's what I usually have on hand. You could use a red or yellow potato, but you'll have to cook it longer.) I think I used 6 small to medium Russets, sliced into about 1/4 inch slices.

Put the potatoes into a pot of cold water (making sure the water covers the potatoes completely) and turn up the heat to medium high/high and let it come up to a boil. When the water gets hot, generously add some salt and turn down the heat to medium low (enough heat that it stays at a boil, but doesn't boil over). Boil for 5 minutes.

While the potatoes are working start chopping the onion. I used a small onion from my garden, but you could use 1/2 a medium onion if you couldn't find a small one.

I just cut it in half, slice it and then dice it in the opposite direction. (This is also known as the Rachael Ray Hack.)

I put the diced onion into a large skillet with 1 pound of lean, organic ground beef and 1 Tbsp of olive oil. (If you are using a fattier grind of meat, then you can omit the oil.)

Turn on the heat to medium high/high and start breaking up the meat. I like to do this with a potato masher, because it goes much faster. (I also learned this by watching Rachael Ray.) Add salt and pepper (to taste).

To the meat and onion mixture, add in 2 tsp (2 cloves) of minced garlic (This is only 1 tsp that I'm showing in the pic. I added a second one after I put the camera down.)

After the potatoes have boiled for 5 minutes, strain them. (If you are using a waxier potato, you'll want to boil them for more like 15 or 20 minutes). You don't want the potatoes cooked all the way . . . just par cooked. They will finish in the oven.

Spread the hot potato slices into an even layer on the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish.

In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, add 1/2 stick of salted butter. (4 Tbsp)

When the butter is melted (or almost melted in my case - I was a little impatient), add in the same amount of flour (4 Tbsp).

Whisk the butter and flour together until smooth, and let cook for just a minute (you just want to cook out the raw flour taste). Turn the heat down to low. Then add 2 cups of milk. (I usually use nonfat milk, but any kind you have will do.) Slowly add the milk as you whisk the butter/flour so as to not get any lumps.

When all the lumps are out, turn the heat back up to medium and add in 1 tsp of salt (to taste).

1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

and cheese! You'll need 2 cups, grated cheddar, for the sauce. Continue to cook the milk sauce until it bubbles and thickens (making sure to stir, so you don't get lumps).

When the sauce is thick, the cheese gets stirred in, and the heat is turned off. This is the same sauce you would use for macaroni and cheese. But instead of noodles, we are adding meat.

The cooked meat/garlic/onion mixture is added to the sauce (I just spoon it in a little at a time, so I don't make a mess.)

After all the meat mixture is stirred into the cheese sauce,

It gets poured over the potato slices.

Smooth it into an even layer, making sure that all the potatoes are covered.

Bake @ 350F for 15 minutes and then top evenly with French's Fried Onions. (You know. The stuff people use on green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.) If you wanted your casserole to be more cheese-y, then add another cup of cheese before you add the fried onions. - I think the crunchy onions are the best part!

Bake for another 10 minutes (until the onions are brown and crispy and the cheese sauce is bubbly), and then set aside to cool for a couple minutes (so you don't burn your mouth!).

Nothing left to do, but slice and serve.

If you let it cool for at least 10 minutes, it should slice perfectly. It really is so good, and simple!
Here's the recipe:

Potato Cheeseburger Casserole

1 1/2 to 2 pounds Russet potatoes, (6 small to medium potatoes) peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 Tbsp oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves minced)
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar (plus 1 cup more if you want to add on top) 
4 oz of French's Fried Onions (about 2/3 of a 6 oz container)
In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water generously salt the water. Bring it up to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes and the drain. Spread the potatoes out in an even layer in a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside.
In a large skillet, add the oil, beef, onion and salt and pepper. Cook over high heat and break up the meat into small pieces. 
While the meat is cooking, melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute and then turn the heat to low. Continuously whisk as you slowly add the milk, to make sure there are no lumps. When the sauce is smooth, turn the heat up to medium. Add salt and pepper (to taste). Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce bubbles and gets thick. When the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and stir in the 2 cups of cheese. 
When the meat mixture is cooked, add it to the cheese sauce and stir. Pour the meat/cheese sauce over the potatoes, and spread out into an even layer (making sure all the potatoes are covered). 
Bake @ 350F for 15 minutes. Top with 1 more cup of cheese (optional) and the French's Fried Onions. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the onions are brown and crispy and the cheese sauce is bubbly. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.


  1. Sound delish...I don't have french fried onions in the pantry so gonna top with bacon...hoping for a bit of crunchy. Let ya know how "we" did... have to make something quick and this sounds like a winner with my husband!