Hamburger Potato Cheese Casserole

I made this for my husband and myself last night, because the snow we got on the weekend put me in a “comfort-food” mood. Like others, I added extra seasonings to suit our tastes. I sauteed fresh mushrooms and the onions with the meat, and added three crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of Minor’s beef broth concentrate. I also covered the casserole for the first hour, which kept it nice and moist and helped the potatoes cook properly. I then removed the lid for 15 minutes, which helped set up the dish nicely. Last, I didn’t add any cheese at all, and didn’t miss it. I felt that cheese would only make it greasy and heavier than I would have been able to stand. Granted, it’s not gourmet, but it was created with kids in mind, after all.

It was definitely something I’ll make again when I feel like comfort food.

Ingredients:
5 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
2 -3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 lb ground beef ( really lean is preferable)
salt and pepper
Cheese sauce (the same one I use for macaroni and cheese)
2 cups milk ( I use skim)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
ketchup ( optional condiment)

HOW TO MAKE:

1. I use a 2 1/2 quart covered casserole dish for this. This will stick unless you have a great non-stick baking dish.
2.Preheat oven to 350.
3.Brown hamburger and onion.
4.Place a layer of sliced potatoes in casserole dish, top with half of hamburger/onion mixture. Salt and pepper to taste (kind of depends on how salty your cheese sauce is – you can always salt it later if it needs it).
5.Repeat layering of potato slices and hamburger mixture (and salt and pepper if desired).
6.Make Cheese sauce:.
7.Melt 3 T butter in saucepan over med-high heat.
8.Add 3 T flour, and the salt and pepper. Stir quickly to blend.
9.Add 2 cups milk; stir with whisk to incorporate butter/flour mixture.
10.Reduce heat, stir till thickened and bubbly.
11.Remove from heat and add shredded cheddar. Stir until cheese melts.
12.Pour cheese sauce over hamburger and potatoes in baking dish. Push potatoes around to let cheese sauce into all of the crevices so it’s well coated.
13.Cover and place in oven. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, till potatoes are tender and top is browned. I like to take off the lid for the last 20 minutes or so to brown the top a bit.
14.Even with the leanest ground beef, this can get little pools of grease on top – I just spoon these off. It doesn’t mean the whole thing is greasy – just cheesy.
15.My family members consider generous amounts of ketchup a necessary addition to this dish. I like it fine by itself (ok, maybe a spot of ketchup on the side).