Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

I was watching the news last week and they were reporting that the price of chicken wings has increased 25%.  Say whaaaa? And why just the wings? Why not the breast, or the thighs? Then it dawned on me...football season.  This is my theory on whey they also reported that the price of tortilla chips has gone up 20%.  The die hard men and women that love football LOVE their football! And most totally dig buffalo wings.  I tend to be more of a fan of the breaded and baked spicy wings myself, but every once in awhile I'll get down with some messy, greasy, finger lickin' good wings.  And don't forget the beer on the side...and the ranch, can't forget the ranch.  Although some people like blue cheese dressing (I'm not a hater, I just don't enjoy something that smells like stinky feet...but I totally love me some feta, go figure.) 

So when I told my husband I was going to transform our typical party potato casserole recipe into a buffalo chicken casserole, he was skeptical to say the least.  I believe his exact words were, "well I mean it sounds ok, but I guess I'm just not as excited about it as you are..." Can you tell we support each other 100%? But I soldered on. I knew that if he gave it a chance he would like it..at least that was the vision I had in mind.  At that point the recipe could still be a total bust.  But I wasn't going down without a fight.  So with Thursday night football playing, and a beer in hand, he uttered those magical words I'd been waiting to hear..."Wow this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be...It's good!"  He always knows exactly what to say I tell ya!  So I hope when you try this recipe it exceeds your expectations, no matter how low they are. 

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole
makes 12-16 servings

Potato Casserole
1 (2 lb) pkg frozen hashbrowns, shredded or cubed
16 oz (2 cups) sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg ranch dip mix
1/2 cup onion (half a medium onion) finely chopped
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot
1-1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup melted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. 

2.  In a large bowl, mix together sour cream, soup, ranch mix, onion, and pepper.  Stir in frozen hashbrowns, and cheese until mixed together.  Spread into the baking dish.

3.  Melt 1/2 cup butter and stir in the hot sauce.  Toss the chicken pieces in the hot sauce mixture until well coated.  Spread out over the potato layer.  Cover with foil and bake @ 375° for 45-50 min or until hot and bubbly.

4.  Melt 1/4 cup butter and stir with crushed cornflakes.  Sprinkle topping over chicken layer and return casserole to oven.  Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes. 

{Freeze It!} - Put together the casserole except for the topping, cover and freeze.  Make sure to defrost before cooking, or expect to add at least 30 minutes cooking time before putting the topping on. 

**Make sure your chicken isn't straight out of the fridge before you slice it.  It helps if it is closer to room temp.  I made this mistake when I mixed the warm butter/hot sauce mixture with my chicken and it kind of glopped up, resembling canned pumpkin.  Not cute.  Hence why there aren't any pictures of that step! It will all end up find because the butter melts again after it has congealed, but it ain't pretty, I'm just telling you!

**There is no need to add any salt to this recipe like a traditional potato casserole.  The ranch dressing mix has plenty of salt to go around. Don't do it...your arteries will thank you.

**This casserole is a one pot dish, so while my husband and I could normally demolish 1/2 a pan of normal potato casserole, we barely got past 1/4 of this.  It is really hearty...so you may want to cut it in half if you are cooking for a smaller audience, or freeze half of it!
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