I am going to apologize in advance that this recipe has no picture, but I do promise a picture next week when I make it again for my parents' visit. It was THAT good, I would be glad to eat it pretty much everyday. Also, don't ask me about the calorie content, I don't know and I'm not going to try to find it out because I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.
This recipe was inspired by two things. First, this good old fashioned comfort food recipe found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/joleans-cheese-potato-smoked-sausage-casserole-126623. Looks fabulous and yummy doesn't it? Well, except for the fact that I kind of hate Velveeta and I don't keep it in the house. Second, about a year ago I was at a "girls' night in" where my friend Lauren made a super delicious cheese fondue. I have been dreaming about that fondue ever since and I asked her for the recipe just a few weeks ago. Because she really is amazing she was happy to oblige. I hadn't made the fondue yet though, mostly because with everything going on I didn't have time to make the fondue and come up with an array of fun dippers for it. I had been thinking I wanted to make baked potato fries, blanched broccoli, Lil' Smokies, blanched carrots and maybe bread cubes for dipping. Then I saw that first casserole and the genius that is this casserole was born.
6-8 medium russet potatoes (I like mine to come from Idaho usually, but those apparently don't exist out on this coast)
1 package smoked sausage (mine was 14oz I know the weights vary depending on what kind you get, you could definitely use smoked turkey sausage or even ham depending on your personal tastes)
1 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 - 3/4 of an onion, chopped (use a little more or a little less according to your taste, but don't leave it out all together then tell me the dish was a little "bland" because OF COURSE IT WILL BE)
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, diced very fine (more or less according to your taste, but again, if you leave it out you are going to loose flavor)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (you could probably use half and half, whole milk, or maybe even two percent, but I would stick with higher fat contents, you are making a rich lovely creamy cheese sauce, if you skimp on the fat content you risk your sauce breaking)
8 oz cream cheese (you could probably use the 1/3 fat kind, but please, don't use the fat free kind, your sauce will not be the same)
4 oz grated Gruyere cheese (use Gruyere, you will thank me)
4 oz grated decent quality Parmesan cheese (not the green can people, it has it's place but not here)
2 cups chopped broccoli (either fresh blanched or frozen, I used frozen)
The "How to":
First clean your potatoes, peel if desired (I did, but you don't have to), cut potatoes into cubes (size is up to you, but I would go with 1/2 - 3/4 inch-ish cubes, mine were closer to 1 inch pieces and they were a little too large), place in a pot cover with cool water, boil over medium high heat until pieces are fork tender but NOT mushy, we aren't making mashed potatoes here! Remove from heat, drain, salt potatoes to taste and put potatoes into your 9x13 glass casserole to cool a bit. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile cut sausage into half moons, add about 1 T EVOO to a large frying pan, add sausages and brown over medium high heat. Don't skip this step, browning is where FLAVOR comes from. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon (leaving the drippings behind in the pan) and place into casserole dish with potatoes.
Add your chopped broccoli into the casserole dish with potatoes and sausage, make sure that your potatoes, sausage and broccoli are mixed together in the dish.
Add chopped onion to pan with drippings and cook until onions are translucent (just a few minutes). Lower heat to medium, then add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds to one minute (careful not to burn your garlic). Add in your heavy cream and your cream cheese, stir until cream cheese is melted. Then add in Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, cut off the heat, and stir until cheeses are melted.
Pour cheese sauce over potatoes, sausage, and broccoli in casserole dish, stir to coat pieces, taste, add salt and pepper as needed, then place casserole in 375 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes. Enjoy!
Next time I make this I am probably going to add more veggies (I'm thinking cooked chopped carrots at least), and I'm going to make a Panko breadcrumb topping. Not that I didn't love this casserole the first time (because, trust me, I did), but I'm just not the kind that can leave well enough alone. I think the carrots will add some good color and a little sweetness, and I think the Panko will add a little texture that may have been missing the first time.