Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger Skillet. Those of you who have been following along might have noticed that, although this blog claims to be in part dedicated to mince/ground meat recipes, I’ve only posted a few ground pork recipes thus far. My excuse.
So I have this mouthwatering picture of this Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger Skillet recipe. It’s yummy and easy and nostalgic, at least for me, so I hope you’ll give it a chance.
When I was little, we ate a lot of hamburgers, and I used to complain about the read-to-cook burgers a lot. Some of the stuff out of those boxes tasted pretty funny, particularly anything with noodles. But there was one exception. This glorious variety: Hamburger Helper, Cheesy Hash Browns.
And then I grew up and realized how much horrible chemical crap goes into those boxes. As reassuring as it is to know that the cheese sauce is “naturally flavored,” I’d rather have actual cheese, please.
Then something dreadful happened. Hamburger Helper Cheesy Hashbrowns disappeared from the shelves of my local store and every other store I visited. And thus I resigned myself to a life without the comfort of those cheesy, potato-y burnt bits that magically materialized on the bottom of my pan… until one morning a few weeks ago, when I was desperate for something quick I could whip up. There wasn’t much left in my fridge or my pantry, but from the meager offerings, a beautiful idea began to take form.
I have ground beef, I thought. And potatoes, and cheese, and milk… I know how to make cheese sauce. So what was stopping me from making chemical-free Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger myself?
Nothing. And so I did.
This Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger Skillet recipe involves a few steps more than the box kind. Cooking the potatoes is the step that takes the longest, and preparing the cheese sauce adds an extra pot to wash. I promise it is totally worth it. See how pretty this sauce is?
I love the look and flavor of paprika in this sauce and on the potatoes – it’s hands-down my favorite spice and the one I use most often – but you can omit it if you like.
An Important Note About Potatoes In Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger***
I’ve made this Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger Skillet recipe twice. The first time I used diced potatoes, and the second time I decided to shred them for a more authentic hashbrown-y feel. I don’t recommend this.
Shredded potatoes cook much faster, but they take forever to shred – at least with a cheese grater – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll likely cut yourself in the process.
Also, shredding potatoes yourself does not result in the nice matchstick pieces you’ll find in a freezer bag or in your Hamburger Helper box. It results in a starchy, glumpy mess. This starchy, glumpy mess will still taste good when cooked, but it adds a lot of excess moisture to the recipe, which means no yummy, crispy browned bits on the bottom of the pan for you. Which kind of makes this recipe not worth the hassle.
So please be kind to yourself and dice your potatoes nice and small and wait the necessary amount of time for them to cook through and brown in the skillet. I promise it will be worth it. Or you could cheat and buy frozen hash brown potatoes and adjust the recipe a little; I’ll never tell.
The Best Cheesy Hashbrowns Hamburger Skillet
- 4 medium potatoes - (russet or Yukon gold), diced to about ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup onion - diced
- 2 tablespoons butter - divided
- 1 pound ground beef (minced beef) - lean
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (plain flour Australia and UK)
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1-1 ½ cups cheddar cheese - shredded (or another cheese that melts well)
- 1 teaspoon salt - optional, to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper - optional, to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika - optional, to taste
- Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of butter. When the butter is hot, add in the onions. Saute for one minute, and then add the potatoes. Stir potatoes to coat, season to taste (using paprika in addition to salt and pepper if you like,) and then cover the pan to allow them to steam as they fry, lifting the lid every few minutes to stir.
- Once the potatoes are cooking, melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in one tablespoon of flour to form a roux. Cook for a minute, whisking constantly, and then begin to add the milk a little at a time, whisking well between each addition. Once all the milk is added, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are cooked through (taste a piece to make sure), add the ground beef. Cook and stir the mixture until the beef is brown; this may take a little longer than usual as the pan will be crowded. Season to taste. When the beef is cooked through, stop stirring and turn off the heat. Press the mixture against the bottom of the pan, cover, and allow to sit while you finish the cheese sauce.
- Add the cheese to the thickened milk mixture a little at a time, stirring until the cheese has melted and you have a sauce of desirable thickness and cheesy-ness . Season to taste, using paprika if you like. Paprika will lend a beautiful color and a mild smoky flavor to the sauce.
- Remove the lid from the skillet and pour the cheese sauce over the beef and potato mixture, spreading as evenly as possible. Use a spatula to separate a section and lift it from the pan (it may fall apart a little, but it should stay mostly intact) to make sure your beef and potatoes have gotten yummily crust on the bottom. If not, you can return the pan to heat for a short period of time, but be mindful that the food doesn’t burn.