Earlier this month, I wrote about labeling leftovers in the fridge and freezer, and one of my readers poked fun at a dish labeled “Heart Attack Casserole” in one of my photos. Here’s the story behind that dish… and the recipe.
A couple months ago, one of my friends posted a photo on Facebook of a casserole he’d made. He said that on nights he had to cook dinner for his kids, this is what he likes to make, and they love it so much that he makes it about once a week. Immediately, a bunch of friends and I asked what was in it. He shared a quick list of ingredients and said he’d never really written down a recipe — he just throws it together.
Everyone agreed that this was something we would all be making soon. Since then, I’ve made my own version of the dish for my family too, and indeed, it’s a huge hit over here as well.
The first time I served it, my husband asked “What’s in this?” I started rattling off ingredients, and he said “So basically, it’s a heart attack in a casserole dish.” My family christened it “Heart Attack Casserole,” and here’s my recipe:
Heart Attack Casserole
Hat tip to my friend Kevin B. for inspiring my version of this dish!
Large baking dish (I use a 9″x 13″ Corning Ware)
Stick of butter 5-6 large russet or red potatoes
16-20oz. package Italian sausage links
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or leftover cubed/shredded chicken)
1/2 pound bacon 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese Salt, pepper and paprika
1 jar Alfredo sauce (trust me, one with bacon in the sauce makes this even better. I use Prego Savory Bacon Alfredo.)
Any appropriate leftover vegetables you have. (Optional, but I’ve thrown in everything from chopped onions to tomatoes to bell peppers. This is a good dish for cleaning out the fridge..!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grab the stick of butter and generously grease the bottom and sides of your baking dish. Begin cooking the bacon with whatever your preferred method is – I put it in the microwave while I’m working on the rest of the food prep.
Wash and cut the potatoes into chunks. (I have a great shortcut for this below!) Toss them in the pan.
Cut the Italian sausage into round slices about 3/4″ thick. Toss them in the pan. Cube two boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1″ chunks. Toss them in the pan. (If you’re using leftover chicken, cube or shred it and throw it in. It doesn’t matter whether or not you bake this dish with raw or cooked chicken. It’s great either way.)
Now that your bacon is cooked, crumble it into chunks about 1″ in size. Set a handful aside and toss the rest of the bacon in the pan. If you have chopped onions, tomatoes or bell peppers, toss those in too. Shake a generous amount of salt and pepper over the dish, and shake a little paprika over it too. (I never measure… I just eyeball it.)
Open the Alfredo sauce and pour the entire jar over the dish. Use a spoon or spatula to toss all the ingredients in the dish until they’re well-coated with the sauce. Then, spread the shredded cheese over the entire top of the dish. Sprinkle the last handful of bacon over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for 5-10 more minutes, depending on how you’d like the cheese on top to look. Eat. Eat. Eat!
My daughter came up with this fast & easy trick for chopping the potatoes for this dish. Use an apple corer! Once the potato has been “cored,” just grab the whole thing and pull it through the corer, holding it together as if it were still a whole potato. Lay it down on the chopping board. A couple quick chops with a knife, and you’re done & ready for the next potato.
This is also a really economical meal if you find deals like this. This is not a fancy dish. It’s not a highbrow dish by any means. But it is quick to prepare, easy… and delicious!