Potato Casserole with Bacon and Caramelized Onion

I love potatoes and the whole time while I was preparing the meal I was sure that I was going to love this dish too. But the potatoes were just okay; 3-1/2 stars. I should have anticipated a little better based upon the list of ingredients. While the bacon and caramelized onions helped, the main flavor of the dish was potatoes soaked in chicken broth. The texture of the “crispy” potatoes was rubbery; not crisp. It was only the potatoes underneath the crust that were tender. Don’t get me wrong, they were edible, and my youngest son really enjoyed them. But it made a huge mess in my kitchen. There is no way I will ever make this dish again.

3-1/2 star payoff not worth the huge mess in the kitchen


  1. My biggest complaint is it made the mess of a 5-star main course, but with the payoff of just a 3-1/2 star side dish. Everything else I say in this post is secondary. This is the reason that I will never make this recipe again.
  2. Chris Kimball recommends using a mandolin to slice your potatoes, but I used the slicing attachment for my food processor. While the slices using a food processor were not completely uniform, it made quick work of the slicing. I couldn’t imagine trying to do it by hand.
  3. There is a lot of liquid, and at one point I was sure that there was too much. But in the end it cooked down within the allotted 55 minutes.
  4. I would recommend (but didn’t do it myself) lining your baking dish with aluminum foil. Not so important for the bottom of the baking dish, but the sides get a heavy burned on crust that will take 12 hours soaking in soapy water to get ride of.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  High.
Start time 5:00 PM. Finish time 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

4 slices thick-cut bacon (6 ounces)
1 large onion
1-1/4teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/4 cups beef broth
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

  1. Use butter to grease a 13”x9” baking dish, especially along the sides. Cut bacon slices into 1/2″ squares.
  2. Set a medium saucepan over medium-low burner and cook bacon for 12 minutes until crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon and place on a plate lined with paper towels. While the bacon cooks, cut your onion in half and then slice thin.
  3. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from saucepan. Increase burner to medium, cook sliced onion together with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir frequently for 25 minutes until the onion becomes golden brown. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time whenever the pot begins to dry out, and adjust the burner if it turns too dark.
  4. While the onion cooks, set rack to lower-middle position in your oven and preheat to 425-degrees, and peel and slice your potatoes into 1/8” thick slices. Do not wash or rinse the potatoes, as the starch that would be washed away is very important in this dish.
  5. After the onions have browned, add them to a large bowl together with the bacon, thyme, 1 additional teaspoon salt and season with ground pepper.
  6. Use chicken and beef broth to deglaze the saucepan. Increase burner to medium-high and bring up to simmer.
  7. Put potatoes in bowl with onion and toss to combine, being careful not to break the potatoes. Once combined empty bowl into the prepared baking dish. Press down to compress the potatoes into an even layer. Pour the hot broth over the potatoes, and place butter evenly around the top of the potatoes.
  8. Leaving potatoes uncovered, bake for 50 to 55 minutes at 425-degrees. The potatoes will become golden brown along the edges and most of liquid will have been absorbed.
  9. Place on wire rack and allow to stand for a full 20 minutes. This is critical to the texture of the dish, as it allows the broth to become fully absorbed.

5 Responses to Potato Casserole with Bacon and Caramelized Onion

  1. David says:

    This dish was truly a disappointment. Maybe the mandolin might have helped, but in my attempt using a chopper, echoing the blogger, my “last” attempt at this dish, the flavor was washed out by the broth, my potatoes did not crisp, and the potatoes did not soak up the broth. If the falvor had been better, I might give it a go again. This was one of the few really bad disappointments from Cook’s Illustrated.

    • Hi David,
      I agree that this was a complete disappointment, both in terms of texture and flavor. At least I see other people got the same disappointing results, so it wasn’t just my cooking skills.

      • David says:

        Dear Mark,

        Thanks for your response. I am sure it has nothing to do with your cooking skills. Anyone who takes on several years of Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes has acquired all the skills necessary to make its dishes come out successfully.

        But, as an inveterate watcher of the weekly Kimball shows and subscriber to CI, I have come to the conclusion that its clunky writers take liberties with technique, assuming that the reader automatically understands. They are not alone in this, and I have found that only Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” attends to that degree of detail. With publisher’s pressures to economize ever-present, the writers must make compromises.

        Thanks for your efforts. At least one other person is trying to do most of these recipes.


  2. denise says:

    Hi, just found your site as I was searching for reviews on the french style pork loin and found this post for the potato casserole made on the same episode. Did you make the pork roast from this episode too, you mention an “otherwise 5 star meal” and was hoping you could comment on the pork. Thank you.
    Denise, Greenfield, Ma

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