Loaded Potato Casserole

06aPotatoCasseroleReadybfLOSo, no, this is not one of your ‘lite’ recipes. I mean, you could use ‘lite’ cheese and turkey bacon and 2% evaporated milk…

but why?

This is, obviously, a feast day dish, and as such, it should be enjoyed in all its full-fat (and full-flavored) goodness. Once in a great while.

Besides, I had a regular can of evaporated milk that needed using up.

02cEVMilkbfLOWhich is really what got me to thinking about trying this recipe, originally from the nice Carnation® Milk folk, and filled with a bunch of ‘lite’ this and ‘low fat’ that.

01aPotatoesCutbfLOI don’t have time (or the pantry supplies) for that; but I did cut out a bit of extra calories and fat (mebbe?) by substituting some of the grated cheese with my own spicy pimiento cheese spread and eliminating the sour cream entirely.

Very nice.

•3 lb small red and/or yellow potatoes
•1 cup evaporated milk
•1 tsp salt
•1 tsp ground black pepper
•1 cup spicy pimiento cheese
01bBaconSeasonedbfLO•1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (I used a Cheddar and Monterey Jack blend)
•12 oz bacon
Gateway to the North Maple Seasoning
•3 sliced green onions

Wash the potatoes, cut them into similarly sized pieces, then place in a ‘wave-safe casserole, cover with water, and set aside to rest for 15 or 20 minutes.

01cBaconCookedbfLOWhile the potatoes are soaking, line a large, ‘wave-safe plate or platter with paper towels, then arrange the bacon slices on top and season well with the Gateway to the North (or any seasoning you prefer). Set your ‘wave for the amount of bacon (this was five or six slices of regular uncured), push the button, then go off and do something else until it dings.

Remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain, then repeat with the remaining bacon – adding fresh paper toweling to the platter if the first batch left too much fat.

03aPotatoesSeasoningsbfLONote: use the bacon fat-soaked paper toweling from the ‘wave to lightly grease the interior of the 2-1/2 or 3 quart casserole you’ll be using to finish the potatoes.

Drain the potatoes, lightly rinse out the ‘wave safe casserole they’ve been soaking in (to remove any leftover starch), then return the potatoes, cover, set the ‘wave for ‘potato’, push the button, then go gather your other ingredients and crumble the cooled, cooked bacon.

Heat your oven to oven to 350°.

04bAddBaconbfLOWhen the ‘wave dings, check that the potatoes are fork tender for mashing. If not, recover and ‘wave ’em another minute or two, until the y are, then drain off any excess liquid and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Season the potatoes with the salt and pepper, then add the evaporated milk, and the pimiento cheese.

Mash well to combine. I used a regular masher and left some chunks of potato, but if you prefer a smoother texture, feel free to use and electric mixer.

05bAddScallionCheeseBaconbfLOOnce the potato mixture has been mashed to your satisfaction, stir in about half of the bacon pieces and the white and light green bits of scallion (save the dark green bits to use as a garnish or in a salad, they will turn bitter if cooked) and turn into the prepared casserole dish.

CucumberSaladbfLOBake for 25 or 30 minutes, then sprinkle with the shredded cheese and remaining half of the crumbled bacon.

Bake for another five minutes or so, until the cheese is nicely melted, then remove from the oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.

Very nice with roast chicken and cucumber salad, and not too, too bad the next night with roasted green beans and pork chops.

07aPorkPotatoesBeansbfLOBy the way, the nice folk at Carnation offer the following make-ahead tip:

Assemble the casserole is indicated, then cover and stash in the fridge. When ready to cook, bake, tightly covered with foil, at 350° for 45 minutes until heated through, then remove the foil and bake for another five minutes or so, until the cheese is nicely melted.

Nice. And mebbe not for everyday, but if the rest of dinner is well considered and balanced for fat content, why not live a little on one of these dark, cold winter evenings?

Sounds like a plan to me.

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