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Ground beef may be used in place of the Italian sausage if desired, feel free to spread some frozen thawed small veggie mixture or canned drain mushrooms over the sausage meat, the hash browns must be thawed before using and the complete casserole may be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours before baking, use the small diced hash browns not the shredded --- this is delicious and makes a great potluck dish!
- 1 1⁄2 lbs bulk italian sausage meat (spicy or mild)
- 1 (2 lb) bag frozen hash browns, thawed (do not use the shredded frozen hash browns)
- 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1⁄2 cup melted butter
- 1⁄4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided (can use more if desired)
- Set oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- In a skillet cook the bulk sausage meat until browned; set aside (if using ground beef cook beef for extra flavor brown with a chopped onion and 1-2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic).
- In a bowl combine soup with sour cream, melted butter, milk, garlic powder, seasoned salt, black pepper and cayenne; mix vigorously until well combined.
- Mix in onion, hash browns, and 1 to 1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese.
- Spread just under half of the hash brown mixture into the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle the cooked sausage mixture over hash brown mixture.
- Spoon the remaining hash brown mixture over the sausage (does not have to cover completely).
- Bake uncovered for about 40-45 minutes.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup grated cheddar over the top, then place back in oven for about 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.