Hey Tater

So I was at the North Carolina state fair.  I was acting as a judge in the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission’s sweet potato contest.  The direction was to come up with an item for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.

We’d had three or four creations so far and I was in for a massive shock with the next one.

First PBS, North Carolina agriculture celebrity, and our contest coordinator, Lisa Prince told us the name of the newest dish we were about to try.  It was Sweet Potato & Chicken Hash Casserole.  The Kid and I are big fans of any kind of hash.  We can practically make a party out of it.Then she came around to give everybody a gander. Well…it didn’t really look like hash.  It looked more like one of those hash brown casseroles (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they are usually doctorate-level comfort food).  So a nice creamy, cheesy baked sweet potato dish was coming up.  Yeah, I could suffer through.

The recipe was then passed around, and I got really nervous.   There were two ingredients that I usually don’t cook with, or eat; cream of chicken soup and (Horrors!) canned chicken meat.  Before I learned to cook I used them pretty often, but I’ll admit it, I thought I was too good for them now.

And I didn’t see how the other two ingredients would work with each other or with everything else.  Separately I liked them just fine, but I was afraid putting them together might result in a massive explosion.

This is what happens when you have an explosion involving blue cheese.

The ingredients were blue cheese and rosemary.  See?  It even scared you a little, admit it.

They started dishing out samples for us, and I started hoping somebody somewhere would hit the fire alarm, or the power would go out, or lightning would finally strike me down, or something.  You see, when one is a judge in a cooking contest, one has to be a very big girl, and eat each and every thing that is presented—no whining.

So, I figured I take a tiny nibble, wash it down with a swig of water, and try to forget I ever had it in my mouth.

Only.Only it was delicious.  I mean it.  Somehow, that disparate combo of ingredients, when mixed together and heated became a completely cohesive dish that was awesome.  I don’t understand what happened; I’m just chalking it up to some kind of kitchen miracle.

So without further ado, here is the recipe from Raleigh’s Julia Truelove.  And I’m not joking; you have to try this for yourself.

Sweet Potato & Chicken Hash Casserole  sweet-potato-cass3 Sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 10 oz. cans chicken breasts chunks, drained

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. sour cream

2 eggs

4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

1 c Italian breadcrumbs, divided

2 T butter, melted

1 1/2 T chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 c finely minced onion

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the soup, sour cream, eggs, blue cheese, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, rosemary, onion, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Fold in sweet potatoes and chicken. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs with the butter and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 1 hour; allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 – 8

Oh, and this crazy dish?It won first prize.

Thanks for your time.

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