- 1 32 ounce bag southern-style hash browns, thawed
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Large pinch chipotle chile powder or cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup milk
- 8 ounces sour cream (light or regular)
- 2 3 ounce pkgs real bacon pieces or 1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat and cook the red bell pepper and onion, covered, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and milk, then the chile powder, garlic powder and pepper. Cook until you have a very thick sauce, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream until well-blended.
While the vegetables cook, mix the thawed potatoes, bacon pieces, 1 1/2 cups of cheese and the ranch dressing mix in a large bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and pour over the potatoes. Mix the cooked sauce into the potatoes. Pour into a greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the rest of the cheddar over the top and bake another 15 minutes. Stand back to avoid getting trampled once they're out of the oven!