Country Style Potato Casserole

With cheese, bacon and onions - what's not to like?

Country cooking is to many southerners a desire to relish the home-style taste of our generation before us. It is a unique cuisine that many of us take for granted yet there are more and more cooks today wanting to learn the 'secrets' of why this food style is becoming ever so popular. Well, for those of us born in the south, we know that reasoning is simple; it is because it taste so good. Country style cooking is more than using bacon with everything you cook. Heck, sometimes you can use sausage, ham hocks, smoked turkey necks or wings ... seriously, most foods cooked in this style does have some kind of smoked flavored essence wrapping under the natural vegetables you are cooking.

A favorite for holidays, cookouts, a make-ahead-dish for a lazy day breakfast and perfect for brunch, this is one casserole that has everything, including great taste appeal, going for it. Yup, it is indeed a great side dish to have on hand for just about any occasion. Put in in your recipe box if not in your oven today - you'll be glad you did. Enjoy!

Hash Brown Casserole, Country Style

6 to 8 servings

5 slices of thick hickory smoked bacon
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic toes (cloves), mince
1 -32 ounce southern style hash brown potatoes (potatoes are cubed), thawed
1/2 cup (light) sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup diced red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 -10.75 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup (low sodium and reduced fat)
1 1/2 cups Kraft Triple Cheddar shredded cheese, divided

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp; remove to drain and set aside. Discard all but 1 teaspoon of drippings from pan. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thawed potatoes. Cover and cook about 15 minutes stirring twice. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, stir together the sour cream, green onions, bell pepper, salt, pepper, thyme, undiluted mushroom soup and fold in half of the cheese.

Gently add the potato mixture to combine. Place into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Allow casserole to set out for 20 minutes before baking. Place in oven with foil cover for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook another 30 minutes or until potatoes are bubbly around the edges and the topping is brown.


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