For Easter I have been asked to bring “naughty potatoes” which is a family recipe consisting of frozen hash browns, sour cream, cream of celery soup, green onions, and cheese.
I’m wondering if anyone has any ideas for improvements without getting too outside the box. I’m thinking maybe Swiss cheese instead of / in addition to the chedder, or maybe some spices.
I’d try a nice artisan cheddar from England or Wisconsin instead of packaged supermarket cheddar (if that is what you have been using). It makes an incredible difference. A smoked cheddar might be nice, too. If you’ve been using pre-grated cheddar, you could use a food processor to grate a non-pre-grated artisan cheddar without too much more work on your part.
I’d make a cream sauce instead of using the cream of celery soup as a most obvious improvement of the recipe. I do occasionally cook with cream soups as ingredients, but they’re overly salty and don’t provide nearly the mouth feel that actual cream does.
Use cream of mushroom soup (if no one has mushroom aversion/allergies) instead of cream of celery, ground celery seed/celery salt, dill, and a bit of garlic would probably be very good. If you can’t use the cream of mushroom, add less of the celery salt, but still add it. I’d avoid the swiss, but use a bit of sharp cheddar mixed in with the regular cheddar. Some crumbled freshly cooked bacon garnish also sounds good, smokey or pepper bacon. Can you gently heat the soup with the spices before adding it, so the spices have a chance to soak in? If not, stir the spices into the soup and let it sit covered in the fridge for a bit before making the dish so the spices soak in.
My sister uses the hash browns that come with peppers already mixed in.
Sharp chedder is what I call “regular” chedder. (Though I live in MN I was born and raised in WI. I also work and grocery shop in WI)
How about Creme Fraiche in place of the sour cream. That will add more of a zing to the dish. Thin sliced procuitto (crisp it in the oven first) might add a nice touch, assuming your family is not opposed to pork products. Chorizo Sausage also goes great with potatoes (render the fat out first, or you will get greasy potatoes, instead of naughty potatoes). A few people mentioned a spicy ingredient; I would recomend Siracha, which gives more chili pepper FLAVOR then chili pepper HEAT (Look at the ingredient list of your hot sauce options - if first on the list is vinegar, don’t waste your money).
As for herbs, I second the call for chives, but they go on top as a garnish, not mixed in (you knew that already, right?). Fresh Thyme would be great mixed in (Take the time to pick the leaves, and get out all the stems). And for spices, corriandor, paprika and nutmeg will all dance on your tounge with the potatoes (But you are not making tacos or apple pie here, so go light on these).
And don’t forget SALT… potatoes prefer decent seasoning. Dont be affraid to taste the raw potato mixture before baking to see if it needs more salt.
Our family version of this uses mushroom soup instead of celery. Recently we used cream of mushroom and garlic soup, and it added a nice flavour. I realize you didn’t post the entire recipe, but I notice the absence of butter. Our recipe calls for 1/4 cup of butter and I forgot to add it once. It was the driest, nastiest version we had ever had. There is no chance of that happening again. If your recipe doesn’t have a bit of butter added to it, then consider adding some.
I’ll post our recipe (from memory, so I hope it’s right). It sounds similar, so this may be a change for your family but close enough to pass for the familiar. It’s a comfort food for our family.
2 lbs Hash brown potatoes (frozen)
1 can Campbells cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Campbells Cream of Mushroom and Garlic soup
500ml sour cream
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup minced white onion (or to taste)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients in huge mixing bowl. Move to oven safe bowl and top with parmesan cheese
Bake for 45 min at 350 (?)…might need an hour.