Scalloped potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods. They are one of my dad’s favorites too but he likes his “cheeseless,” probably because that’s the way my mother made them. If I made a ham a day or two earlier I would have cubed the ham and mixed it in with the potatoes but I’m cooking both the ham and the scalloped potatoes today. So they are served side by side. Scalloped potatoes and ham. It’s what’s for dinner tonight.
There are dozens and dozens of different ways to prepare scalloped potatoes. I’ve made them several different ways myself. But I like them with a lot of onions and a little cheese. Not so much cheese you’d mistake them for au gratin potatoes but just enough cheese to make them a little richer and creamier. You can make any modifications based on your personal tastes.
When I was in high school I took Home Economics. I took Home Economics because I was a girl. It was the class where I learned to outline textbooks. I believe outlining to be a skill with no real life purpose that I’m aware of. However, all of us learned to make a white sauce. Now that is a skill with a real life purpose. It’s enabled me to make great Mac and cheese, pasta sauces, gravies, and, of course, scalloped potatoes. Mrs. Little, my Home Ec teacher, would be proud of me for remembering the white sauce.
Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese
2 pounds small potatoes
1 large sweet onion sliced thin
9 T butter divided
6 T flour
4 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/2 cup smoked Gouda, 1/2 cup gruyere)
1 tsp dry mustard
5-6 fresh sage leaves (optional)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 400.
Scrub your potatoes and slice them thin. I use a mandolin so the potato slices are uniform thickness. I also prefer not to peel them. Rinse the potatoes thoroughly after slicing and drain well.
Thin slice the onion. For some reason I have trouble slicing onions on a mandolin so I just use a sharp knife.
Melt 6 T of the butter in a heavy deep skillet. Whisk in the flour and a couple of the sage leaves that have been thin sliced. Whisk for a minute or two.
Slowly add the 4 cups of milk continuing to whisk. Whisk in the ground mustard and continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.
Use 1 T of the butter and grease a large casserole dish. Layer half the potatoes first, half the onions, sprinkle one half cup of the cheeses and half the sauce. Repeat.
Melt the last 2 T of butter in a skillet. Pulse your fresh bread crumbs with a few fresh sage leaves and fresh thyme. Toast on top of the stove tossing until lightly toasted. Sprinkle on top of the potatoes.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender and the top is golden brown.
Allow the potatoes to sit for about 5 minutes are taking them from the oven. I served mine with sliced ham, steamed broccoli and some spiced apple slices.
Use whatever cheeses are your favorites. If you prefer, omit the sage and thyme. Perhaps try some basil and/or parsley. Or go herb-less. Enjoy. It’s not fancy but you will find it comforting food.
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