Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

FullSizeRender-4There’s a great divide in our house, and it’s over this casserole. People either love the creamy Buffalo chicken kick, or they hate it. What’s really weird, is that I’m the one who loves it most, and I’m not much for heat in my food! This recipe was featured on Rachel Ray’s most requested recipes of 2013 show, but I’ve made a few adjustments—like halving the amount of hot sauce, and making more of the béchamel (aka: white sauce). The only ingredients you probably need to grab at the grocery store, are Frank’s hot sauce and a rotisserie chicken. Other than that, it’s basics like potatoes, butter, flour, and cheese. I’ve made it with red potatoes, and russets, and it does seem to work better with the russets for some reason. Use a flour substitute in the sauce, and this dish fills the craving for creamy pasta if you’re doing gluten-free diet.

And where do the famous Buffalo wings get their name? Buffalo, New York, of course, not the 1-ton beast. The story goes that more than 50 years ago, Teressa Bellissimo, owner and cook at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York had gotten a whole crate of chicken wings by mistake, and wasn’t sure what to do with the excess, parts that were usually used only in soups. She came up with the idea to serve them deep friend and bathed in her secret hot sauce, with celery sticks and creamy blue cheese dressing on the side. They were such a hit, that the bar became infamous for her happy accident.

6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour or Namaste gluten-free flour blend
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2½-3 cups milk
1/2 cup of Frank’s Red Hot original cayenne pepper sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (1/8″)
3 cups shredded Monty Jack cheese
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin removed, and meat shredded (approx. 4 cups meat)

Preheat oven to 400°. To make béchamel sauce: In medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and dry mustard, and stir to combine. Gradually whisk in milk to avoid lumps in sauce (start with 2½ cups and add more milk if sauce needs thinning later). Stir in hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Sauce is thick enough when it coats a spoon when stirred.

In a 9″x13″ baking dish, spoon a thin layer of béchamel sauce on bottom, and layer with 1/3 of the sliced potatoes. Cover with 1/3 of the shredded chicken, 1/3 of the cheese, and 1/3 of the béchamel. Repeat layers twice, finishing with the cheese rather than the béchamel. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

NOTE: This dish is great left over as well. In fact the flavors mellow, and I actually prefer it second-day.

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