Stanley Levy from Baltimore was in search of the recipe for the cheesy potato casserole that he enjoyed at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Pennsylvania. He said it reminded him of macaroni and cheese but instead of pasta it was made with potatoes.
A search of the Cracker Barrel website did not yield any recipes, so I contacted the company's office of corporate communications outside Nashville. Tenn., and described the dish that Levy was seeking. They thought that in all likelihood it was the popular hash brown casserole. The dish has been on the Cracker Barrel menu for more 20 years and is its best-selling side item. They graciously agreed to share the recipe that originally came from the family of restaurant founder Dan Evins.
Thanks to the availability of prepackaged frozen hash brown potatoes, the casserole is very easy to make. Do not thaw the potatoes shreds before using them and take care not to overmix or pack the mixture too tightly into the prepared pans. Also, while the recipe says that the shredded cheese topping is optional, I think it is a must. This dish is not for calorie counters; the more cheese the better.
This side dish goes equally well with breakfast, lunch or dinner, and once you taste this decadent comfort dish, it will be easy to understand why Levy and so many others seem to crave it.
Machelle Drady from Palm Coast, Fla., said that a number of years ago, a client brought her what she thought were fried oysters. "They were great, the texture, taste, everything."
However, after she finished eating them she was informed that they were not oysters but rather eggplant. She said she has looked over the years for such a recipe with no success, and she was hoping someone might know the secret to making these faux fried oysters with cubed eggplant.
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Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) block Colby cheese, shredded
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 (30-32 ounce) packages frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup shredded Colby cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add frozen potatoes to the bowl. Mix to combine. Divide the mixture evenly into two lightly greased 1 1/2 quart baking dishes being careful not to pack down. Sprinkle with 1 cup Colby cheese, if desired.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.