Sometimes you need a great potato recipe. And you need it for a crowd of 20-odd. And it needs to be not just great but killer—a real scene-stealer. And easy to make ahead, with easy ingredients, and bake-able at any temperature according to whatever else is going on with your oven. Oh, and easy to transport if you have to take it to someone else’s house for, say, Easter, because once it’s cooked it will stay hot for a nice long time.
Too bad a recipe like that doesn’t exist. Oh, wait! It does! I make it all the time! I’ve gotten so many compliments on this hash-brown casserole that I’m always ashamed to tell people how simple it is. I’ll tell you, because you’re my friends—but keep it to yourself, won’t you? And don’t even think about how rich it is. We’re at a PARTY!
This recipe for Party Potatoes is actually supposed to serve 30, but I’m saying 20 because every time I make the recipe for 20 (or even 16), there’s never any left over.
3 32-ounce containers Ore-Ida Hash Browns (either Southern- or Country-Style), defrosted
3 large onions, diced (about 6 cups)
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds Gruyère, grated
1 1/2 pounds Havarti, grated
4 5-ounce containers Boursin with herbs, crumbled
1 pint half-and-half
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a large roasting pan.
2. In a very large (8- to 13-quart) bowl, combine the defrosted potatoes, onions, garlic, and pepper with your (clean) hands, tossing until well combined. Now mix in all the cheeses thoroughly. Taste for seasoning, adding more pepper if you want. (It’s not likely that you’ll need salt with all this cheese.) This can all be done a day ahead and chilled until baking time.
3. Pack the potato mixture into the roasting pan, smoothing the top. Pour the half-and-half evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle a little more pepper on top.
4. Bake the potatoes for at least an hour, uncovered, depending on how brown you want them. (I like to bake them for 2 hours, myself.) Halfway through the baking, stir the potatoes up from the bottom to get the already browned bits mixed throughout. After that, leave the potatoes alone. If they start to brown faster than you want, cover the roaster again or lower the heat. If you have the opposite problem, turn the heat up.
Party Potatoes are just plain forgiving. If, for some reason—a big ol’ baked ham, say—you need to cook the potatoes at a lower temperature, that will also work. I’ve done them at 300 for 4 hours with no trouble at all. You can also take them out midway through the baking process and finish them a couple of hours later.
Don’t bother thanking me. I know how busy you are with all that other party stuff. Just enjoy the spuds.