Thursday, June 30, 2011


Bill Knapp's Au Gratin Potatoes were always served in a little oven-ware dish.
Bill Knapp's was a chain of restaurants in the upper Midwest and in Florida. Before the explosion of hipper chain restaurants in every town, Bill Knapp's was the place to go for a good meal of familiar family food.  They were known for decent food at decent prices.  Their slogan was, "GOOD things to EAT."

Bill Knapp's had a large menu and was known for soups, my favorite was the Bean Soup, hamburgers, fried or marinate chicken, biscuits, fried onion rings, and Au gratin potatoes.  I found this web site which has different pictures of Bill Knapp's including a picture of their menu.

In the 1990's, my Aunt Irma liked to treat the family to dinner at Bill Knapp's for our birthdays.  She liked the decent prices, the discount given to the birthday person, and the free chocolate or white cake given for birthdays.  We always felt a little sinful when we order the Au gratin potatoes which were one of Knapp's signature dishes.  

The original recipe I found for Knapp's Au gratin potatoes called for half a pound of margarine.  I eliminated it and like the results just as well.  Without the margarine, the milk has to be adjusted and increased to insure a creamy sauce. In 2004, fat was not the villain that it was in the 1990’s so I added back a half of a stick of butter and upped the cheese to one and a half cup of sharp Cheddar cheese.

I found this recipe in an old church cookbook from the Kalamazoo, Michigan area.  The book belonged to a friend and I copied the recipe from it so I no longer have the name of the cookbook.  This is a special occasion dish in my family and loved by all.

2 lb. frozen southern-style hash brown potatoes
1 c or more milk, skimmed milk works well too
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb. Velveeta or Velveeta Light, cubed
1 c to 1 1/2 c sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 stick butter

Ingredients:  Frozen Southern-style hash browns, Velveeta cheese, onion, sharp Cheddar cheese, milk, and butter.

Thoroughly thaw potatoes in microwave or refrigerator.  Put them in a greased 9x13-inch pan.  Sprinkle onions over potatoes.  Melt remaining ingredients in a saucepan over low heat while stirring or use a microwave oven at 50% power.  Watch carefully.  When cheese and butter are melted, whisk to make a smooth sauce.  Pour over potatoes.  Stir gently to mix.  Let set for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.  Add more milk and stir, if necessary.  Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour at 350°.

 Chop up 1/4-cup onion.

 Make sure it is finely chopped

Cube Velveeta cheese for easier melting.
Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
Grate Cheddar cheese.
Place well-thawed hash browns in baking dish.
 Sprinkle potatoes with chopped onions.

 Put cheeses in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl.  Add milk.

 Add butter.

Carefully melt cheeses, milk and butter together.  When melted, whisk to make a smooth sauce.
Pour sauce over the potatoes.
 Stir sauce gently into potatoes.  Let set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.

Bake in 350° oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove from oven.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!


  1. Knapp's did not have a large menu: it had a very limited menu, mostly just variations on chopped steak, ham steak, fried chicken, fried frozen fish, grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes--that's about it. Not much variety.

  2. Dear Michigan Cottage Cook - THANK YOU so much for putting the time and effort into this great "blogspot". Knapps absolutely DID have a large menu and lot's of choices -- are favs seem to be in line with yours (and your Aunt Irma's!!) Thanks for this variation on the orig recipe. Take care!

  3. I am so glad you enjoy the recipe. Thank you for your compliments!