A potato cheese casserole combines one or more cheeses and parboiled potatoes that have been cut or mashed; the mix is put in an oven-safe dish and baked until cooked. The completed casserole has a cheesy flavor tempered by the starch of the potatoes and any other ingredients that were added. It can be served as a side dish or as a small meal designed to showcase a particular type of cheese. Most recipes strive to be convenient, because this dish is often prepared at home, and time-saving ingredients may include creamy canned soups or frozen precooked potatoes.
The potatoes used in a potato cheese casserole can be nearly any variety, from sweet potatoes to Yukon gold. They are usually parboiled until soft and then mashed or diced into cubes. The potatoes also can be cut into slices or grated into shreds. The more surface area that is created in cutting down the whole potato, the more area there is for the cheese in the dish to adhere to.
A wide range of cheeses are commonly added to a potato cheese casserole. Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella and Gruyere are all cheeses that will melt well into the dish. Some cheeses, such as Parmesan or bleu cheese, can be added purely as an additional flavoring that will not add much to the creamy texture. One important ingredient for such a casserole is the addition of some type of liquid, usually a dairy product, to provide a base into which the cheese can melt so it can evenly distribute throughout the dish and create a homogenous sauce.
Additional ingredients in a potato cheese casserole can include diced onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, parsley and thyme. Meat such as diced bacon, shredded chicken or ground beef also can be included. Instead of adding milk or cream to help the cheese melt evenly, cans of creamy premade or condensed soup can be used. Depending on the flavor of the soup, it can conveniently add a number of spices, meats or vegetables to a potato cheese casserole.
The potatoes, if mashed or cubed, can be mixed in a bowl with the cheese and other ingredients and then poured into a casserole dish. If the potatoes are sliced, then it may be better to create layers of the slices with the cheese in between for even melting. The liquid for the dish, whether it is stock, milk or cream, is poured over the dish; some more cheese can be sprinkled on top so it will brown as it cooks. After some time in an oven, potato cheese casserole should be completed and ready to serve hot.