Attention Bad Boys and Girls: Cheesy Potato Bacon Brown Betty

Cheesy Potato Bacon Brown Betty. These potatoes are bad boys! You’re gonna love ’em.

Hmmm. Maybe I should say ‘bad girls’ because I have decided to call this particular cheesy potato casserole Brown Betty.

Brown Betty is a traditional American dessert made from baked apples, pears or berries topped with buttered breadcrumbs. Brown Bettys are sweetly comforting, easy to make and are real crowd pleasers.

But not all Bettys have a sweet tooth– or so I’ve decided. This one is made with potatoes and is certainly not suited for dessert. I think I have created a whole new genre here. When I Google ‘Potato Brown Betty’ the only entries that seem similar are ‘Sweet Potato Brown Betty’– which is made with sweet potatoes and brown sugar, similar to that Southern classic Sweet Potato Pie.

My version is dense with savory ingredients like bacon and cheddar cheese. It would make a terrific holiday side dish. It’s a simple recipe with a casual presentation, so it’s just fine sitting beside an everyday meal as well. It has other things going for it too. It makes ahead very nicely. Just hold onto the breadcrumbs separately until you’re ready to bake. It re-heats easily. And it’s good at room temperature, making it a fine choice for a pot luck party.

However, this isn’t one of those recipes where you can use any kind of potato. You’ll want russets because they’re high in starch, which allows them mash up light and fluffy. GREG

Potato Brown BettyCheesy Potato Bacon Brown Betty serves 8 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 6 sli bacon
  • 3 lb idaho russet potatoes peeled & cut into 2‑inch chunks
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/4 c minced chives
  • 1 c coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 t freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 sli good quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 t dried sage leaves, crumbled
  • 1/4 t dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 4 T melted butter

Place bacon slices in a large, unheated heavy-bottomed or cast iron skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook bacon, turning often until crispy. About 7 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble and set aside.

Place oven rack in center position. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover by about 1‑inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Strain potatoes and then return half of them to the hot, dry pan. Turn heat to low and cook uncovered, shaking the pan often to evaporate as much water from hot potatoes as you can, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Let potatoes cool somewhat then push through a ricer into a large bowl. You may alternatively mash by hand with a masher or fork. Add cream cheese, melted butter and sour cream. Mix until smooth. Add chives, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, half the crumbled bacon, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir until well-combined.

Use a large chefs knife to cut bread slices into 1/2‑inch cubes, then chop into rough breadcrumbs of varying sizes. Move to a large bowl. Pour in melted butter, tossing to coat crumbs. Add dried herbs and mix well.

Transfer potato mixture to a shallow 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole or 9 by 13 baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and herbed breadcrumbs.

Move to center rack of heated oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with remaining bacon. Serve hot.