Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes

Aerial View of Scalloped Potatoes on Plate
Just Like Mom's, but with Green Onions & Gold Potatoes

Recipe inspired by Mom

My mom’s delicious cooking is one of my earliest and most persistent memories. When I was very young, she made the most tantalizing delights on her old electric stove, teaching me the various methods of preparation by osmosis: baking, broiling, boiling, and frying. This was before anyone in New England had heard of stir-frying or steaming (except for suet puddings), and before anyone I knew had an electric frying pan, if they were even invented yet. One of Mom’s old time recipes, often served with ham or beef, was scalloped potatoes. Although they weren’t my favorite back then, recent work stress brought on a craving for this classic comfort food. So I put together a recipe like hers…kind of.

Closeup of Scalloped Potato Surface
With Parmesan and Cheddar Cheeses
First of all, Mom used Idaho baking potatoes. That’s all that was available in those days. I used a combination of Yellow Finns and Yukon Golds, because that’s what our CSA grows. Mom’s softer, less waxy potato is probably better for this recipe, but the yellow color is appealing and any potato will provide comfort value. The key is to slice them thinly enough. I used a 1/8 inch slicing blade in the food processor, which made short work of thin and uniform slices.

Plated Scalloped Potatoes showing Layers
Layers of Deliciousness
Back in the day, Mom used mild yellow onions in this dish. I chose green onions, adding a slight bitter flavor in contrast with the sweet and salty flavors, and to add a smidge of color. You may use any kind of onion, sliced or diced, as long as the pieces are small enough to cook thoroughly. You might want to reduce the quantity if your onions are very sharp.

Layer of Oddly Shaped Potato Slices
Middle Layer: Where to Put Oddly-cut  Potatoes
Like most comfort foods, this recipe is somewhat bland and carbo-loaded. I like it that way (reminds me of Mom), but feel free to zing it up as you desire. Add more onion and a little garlic. Increase the amount of thyme or add other dried herbs. Try sprinkling the layers with cayenne or chili powder and/or adding finely chopped green or hot peppers to the onion layer. Or you could go the other direction and add an extra layer of cheese in the middle. I prefer sharp cheddar, but you might prefer milder cheddar or gruyere.

Leave a comment and let us know what you like to serve scalloped potatoes with, and how you like to vary the recipe.

Scalloped Potatoes in Casserole Dish
Popular Potluck Fare
Scalloped Potatoes
serves 12

3 lbs. potatoes
2 tbsp. flour
  tsp salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
¾ cup sliced green onions
1 - 1½ tbsp. butter
  cups 2% milk
  cup grated cheddar cheese
~3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash potatoes and slice 1/8” thick. It’s fastest and easiest to use a food processor for this. You will have about 9 cups of potatoes.

Mix together flour, salt, and pepper.

Butter a 9” x 13” baking dish. Make a layer of about 1/3 of the potatoes in bottom of dish. Top with ½ of the onions. Sprinkle on half of the flour mixture.

Add another layer of potatoes. This second layer is a good place to hide small, odd, or other not-uniform slices. Next layer on the remaining onions. Sprinkle with remaining flour mixture.

Add the final layer of potatoes, overlapping them in an attractive pattern.

Scald milk and immediately pour into dish around potatoes. Dot potatoes with butter. Top casserole with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Test the potatoes to be sure they are almost done. When they are, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake another 15 minutes or so, until potatoes are tender.

If you like the cheese more brown, place casserole under broiler for 1 - 3 minutes, watching constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and let cool and rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Top Layer of Potatoes in Casserole Dotted with Butter
Top Layer: Make Neat  Overlap

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