I sent my husband and daughter to the grocery store for me the other day, knowing full well that it was a gamble. I confess that I’m a complete control freak in the kitchen, so I hate giving up control of any aspect of the meal-planning. Happily they did an amazing job and found almost everything on the list. I had asked for a few red potatoes, but wound up with 5 lbs. of them as there weren’t any loose for sale. Today’s recipe was inspired by a potato excess and familial request for something with a kick.
I decided to throw chicken into the mix to make it entree-worthy, and served it up with a side salad. Since I can pretty much never strike out when cheese and bacon are on the menu, everyone loved this one. The potatoes got nice and crispy and the heat level was just right. You can always add more or less depending on your family’s taste buds.
We aren’t huge ranch dressing fans, but I love the way the tangy flavor counters the zip of the hot sauce. The cleanest variety that I can’t recommend enough is Tessemae’s dairy-free ranch dressing, which is organic and sugar-free to boot. I first found it on sale at Whole Foods and now we’re hooked! If you can’t find it, definitely read your labels. A lot of bottled ranch dressings have rather unhealthy additives such as MSG and artificial flavors.
You can certainly make this completely dairy-free by using Daiya or another dairy-free cheese and using all olive oil or Earth Balance spread instead of butter in the sauce.
Buffalo Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole
2 lbs. chicken breasts, cubed
8 organic red potatoes, cubed (unpeeled)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs. melted butter, coconut oil or Earth Balance
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbs. smoked paprika
2 tbs. garlic powder
1/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce
3 tbs. Tessemae or other clean ranch dressing (plus more, for drizzling)
2 cups raw sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
5 slices nitrite-free bacon
3/4 cup green onion, diced
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Grease an oblong baking dish.
In large bowl mix olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and hot sauce.
Add potatoes to bowl and toss to coat. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
Drain the potatoes in a colander, collecting the excess sauce in a bowl underneath.
Spread potatoes evenly in baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
While potatoes are in the oven, cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. One cool, crumble and set aside.
Cook the cubed chicken in the bacon grease until browned. Add the cooked chicken to the bowl with the sauce and toss to coat. Add ranch dressing and toss again to thoroughly coat the meat.
Once potatoes are done, spread the chicken on top. Bake for 12 minutes.
Layer the shredded cheese, bacon, and half of the green onions and bake for 3 – 5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Sprinkle with remaining green onions before serving and drizzle with a little ranch dressing (if desired).