When it’s cold and you’re on a food budget, there is a requirement to produce warming, filling and cheap food. This doesn’t mean resorting to pre-made shop meals or low quality ingredients; you just need to cook smart!
The humble potato: So much can be made from this gentle, uncomplicated beast and this Potato Casserole recipe is certainly one that will elevate it! But what’s the history of this simple carbohydrate that so many of us reach for at dinnertime?
The potato began its culinary adventure in 1536 when the Spanish conquered Peru and brought this tuber back to Europe. The Inca Indians had been cultivating the potato from around 8000BC, so this is a fairly ancient ingredient! After spreading rapidly throughout Europe and continuing to many other parts of the world, the potato is now the world’s 4th largest food crop, following maize, rice and wheat.
Because it’s so easy to grow and full of vitamins, the potato has become a firm favorite in many countries, offering a basic essential to all diets. Along the way, there have been many inventions of using the potato in different ways and there are a plethora of recipes and uses for it to choose from! Chips, Mash Potato, Croquette and more. However as the title suggested, our star on this post is Potato Casserole.
A potato casserole can be described as crowd pleaser. If you have a fussy team of small ones round your table, you can probably be quite sure they would tuck in to this hearty meal without complaint. The smell from the oven whilst it is cooking will have them queuing up and there will be no need to bang the dinner gong on a Potato Casserole Night! With the added pepperoni slices and onions, this layered Potato Casserole dish is a meal in one, and just requires some vegetables of your choice.
A potato casserole wouldn’t be complete without a crispy, cheesy topping and there are variations on this. This recipe uses the faithful breadcrumbs and cheese. You could use crushed crisps, cornmeal, cornflakes or even oats so just use whatever you think would create a lovely crisp finish. The cheddar cheese in this recipe could be swopped for parmesan or mozzarella, or even a combination!
Peel and slice the potatoes in to 1cm disks. Place in a large pan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes to part cook them. Don’t let them become too soft or they will break up. They will finish cooking in the oven.
Slice the pepperoni sausage in thin strips and slice the onion thinly too.
In a buttered casserole dish, place one layer of the potatoes on the bottom. Sprinkle some of the pepperoni and onion mix on top. Follow with another layer of potato and repeat until the pepperoni, onion and potato have been used. Finish with a layer of potato on top.
Mix the soup, cream, stock and chives together. Pour over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle over the cheese and breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Place in a preheated oven, at 180 degrees and cook slowly for 45-50 minutes until soft, oozing and toasted on top.
Serve with some green vegetables or fresh herbs.