So I share a pretty wide variety of recipes on this blog but that’s only a fraction of what I spend my time making. I try to share the best and most unique stuff but in a typical day I make at least 4 different recipes. What I’m saying is that I cook a lot and living in Chile has completely changed the way I view cooking.
I grew up going to church potlucks where everyone would bring casserole dishes and simple things to add to the table. A lot of you are probably familiar with those kind of things. At least they were pretty common where I grew up in the southern parts of the States. The thing is, most, if not all, of the casseroles at those things were straight out of a box and took about 20 minutes. While I’m all for quick and easy meals, there is most definitely something to be said for scratch cooking. The most common recipes for a potato casserole start with frozen hash browns and a can of condensed soup. Come on, how hard is it to at least start with a real potato?
It is so much more fulfilling to use ingredients that don’t have to have a label and know exactly what you are feeding your family. I made this recipe almost completely from scratch with the exception of using a smoked chicken from a local business that’s owned by a friend of ours. I know there is the added step of making the stock but it adds so much to the flavor of this dish and also makes use of the reject parts of the chicken that most people would throw away. Oh, and if you can’t find smoked chicken, or have a way to do your own, then a roasted chicken will work in this recipe too, you’ll just miss out on that yummy smoky flavor but it will still be good. This a pretty good example of the type of things I make behind the scenes for the gang.
Like I said, I don’t usually share things that are really common, but with this one I thought I’d make an exception. This recipe was inspired by my aunt’s famous cheesy potatoes that my family has missed so much since being away from her. She makes them with pork and, of course, hers are way better than mine but I think everyone still enjoyed these with all of their smoky goodness. You really need to try this. Spending a little extra effort on a meal can be so rewarding!
- 1 small, whole smoked chicken (roasted chicken will also work)
- 1 pound red skin potatoes, about 4 large or 10 small
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Remove meat from chicken and store in fridge until ready to use. Place the bones and other reject parts of the chicken in a large medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for about 1 hour.
- While broth is cooking wash and, if desired, peel potatoes then chop into small cubes. Grease a casserole dish or dutch oven with butter and set aside.
- After 1 hour, carefully pour broth through a strainer then remove and discard the the rest. Return broth to pot and add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes until potatoes are fork tender and most of the broth is absorbed. (You may need to add more water before potatoes are done)
- While potatoes cook make the sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in flour until there are no lumps. Return to heat and slowly pour in milk and stir until smooth. Turn heat to medium and continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and add cheese and seasoning and stir until cheese is evenly melted in.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Remove chicken from fridge and chop into bite size pieces. Layer potatoes and chicken in prepared dish and pour sauce over top, making sure to cover all the bare spots. Toss breadcrumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over top then bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned and cheese is all bubbly.