A mashed potato casserole is a hot dish, usually prepared with potatoes that have first been cooked and mashed and then baked. The additional ingredients may vary depending on desired flavor, texture, and nutritional value, but the dish can be prepared in any manner suitable to the occasion. With mashed potatoes serving as the key ingredient, there are several varieties of potato to choose from.
The most common potatoes grown commercially are russet, red, gold and white. Russet potatoes are perhaps the most popular potato variety and, while the starchiest potato, are versatile enough to boil, mash, and bake well, making them the ideal potato for mashed potato casserole. Red potatoes are great for steaming, but are not as well-suited for mashing. Gold and white potatoes, like red, are smaller than the russet potato and are better suited for boiling or frying.
There are numerous recipes for mashed potato casserole that vary with added ingredients. Some recipes call for cream cheese, sour cream, butter, dairy cream, and any variety of cheeses. These added ingredients make a rich, if somewhat high-calorie, casserole. Other recipes may strive to reduce fat and calories by using skim milk and seasoning for added flavor. One of the cook-friendly facets of the mashed potato casserole is its versatility in preparation, without greatly affecting the outcome. Stir-in ingredients ranging from chopped bacon and onion to toppings of shredded cheese and shallots all provide a variety of different final flavors.
The primary method of preparing mashed potato casserole is to peel, boil, and mash potatoes and then stir in any additional ingredients before baking. Sometimes egg is added to “set” the dish, but many recipes simply add ingredients that create a creamy texture. Substituting ingredients to accommodate dairy food allergies or sensitivity is also simple by using non-dairy ingredients and does little to alter the potato taste and texture. It is also possible to substitute boxed or frozen mashed potatoes for convenience, but the taste and texture will certainly be affected, so experiment before serving.
Recipes for mashed potato casserole can be found at a wide variety of online cooking sites and a variety of cookbooks and magazines as well. Often categorized as a “comfort” food, the dish is ideal for taking to potluck dinners, work lunches, and serving to any size crowd. Most recipes will allow for preparing the day before and baking just before serving, allowing for added flexibility. Follow food safety guidelines for all ingredients added and promptly refrigerate or discard leftovers.