Nana Recipe Wednesday–Pommes Americaines

by Sarah on February 4, 2011

It’s no secret that Nana was a “traditionally built lady”, much like Precious Ramotswe, the No. 1 lady detective from the books by Alexander McCall Smith.

It’s also no secret that she would likely kick my ass if she knew I was remarking on her build to a large audience of strangers.  Because she did struggle with her weight, as most do, and maybe even more so.  I’ve got a jewelry box full of her “Weight Watchers” pins that she would get when she’d reach a goal.  And my childhood is littered with those plastic plates that diet frozen dinners used to come on.  She saved them for the kids and we ate lunch on them often.

Maybe part of the reason she was so “traditionally built” was because recipes such as these came forth from her kitchen from time to time.  I have to say though, this is another that was originally from the Mrs. Major General, so we can rest assured that Nana didn’t make this one up.

The amounts of ingredients below are real.  But the recipe also serves 20.  Cut it in half or quarters–due to the fat and calorie count are astronomical, the recommended serving size is approximately 1 Tablespoon.

To make the cheese sauce for this, you simply melt the Velveeta and butter together.  The recipe calls for margarine, perhaps because it’s “healthier”.  Hahahahahaha.  Oh.  That’s rich.

I really didn’t need frozen potatoes and Velveeta for 20 this particular night, so I separated into 2 casserole dishes.  One is currently languishing in my garage freezer for some future cheesy potato need.

All there is to it is to let the potatoes thaw, then pour the cheese sauce over the top.  It will be thin so don’t worry that something terrible’s gone wrong.  Put some grated sharp cheddar on top.  And pepper.  Lots of it.

This dish comes out looking a mysterious yellow color.  But it nearly lived up to the taste of my youth.  Nearly.  Somehow, some way, it needed salt.  And more pepper.

But it wasn’t that horrible.

In fact, it was nearly as good as I remember it.

For future reference, I might try this out with one less cube of butter, more salt, more pepper and perhaps some sauteed onion and garlic.    Maybe some green onion or chives on top.  Definitely an easy dish for a crowd.

Just don’t eat more than the recommended daily allowance.

Nana's Pommes Americaines


  • 2 24-oz package of frozen hash browns (I used 2 modern packages, I think each was 32 oz)
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • 1/2 lb. Velveeta (half a small block)
  • 3 cubes margarine (I used butter)
  • 1 tsp salt (not enough)
  • 1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated


  • Preheat oven to 350*.
  • Thaw potatoes. Crumble potatoes into a 9 x 12 baking dish (or 2 smaller dishes).
  • In a saucepan, combine half-and-half, butter, salt and Velveeta. Stir constantly until melted. Pour warm sauce over potatoes and mix lightly in the dish with a fork to be sure the sauce is mixed through.
  • Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  • Approximately 20 servings.

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