Of all the side dishes that seem to be a favorite of everyone, scalloped potatoes must be near the top of the list. And really, what’s not to love? Thin slices of potatoes baked in a lovely cheese sauce. Well, I’ll tell you what’s not to love! The time it takes to bake most scalloped potato recipes. Holy cow, it’s holiday time and you already have several dishes that need anywhere from several hours in a slow oven to 45 minutes in a hotter oven to re-warm. So then comes along your big old lovely casserole of potatoes. How the heck are you going to make room for a dish that requires 1 ½ – 2 hours in a 350 degree oven? Well dear readers, I’m still slightly aghast that it took me until about 8 years ago before my internal incandescent light bulb, which I had always assumed had at least a wattage rating of 100, came on in my brain and shed some light, so to speak, on the subject. (Either my wattage is less than I originally believed it to be, or my wire filaments aren’t burning as hot as they should! And yes, I still have an internal incandescent light bulb. I was born way before there was an option to be hard wired with a CFL – Compact Fluorescent Lamp)! So if you are looking for a simple way to make an old favorite, give this recipe a try. There is no flavor lost when you partially cook the potatoes ahead of time. And the peace of mind from knowing that your potatoes won’t possibly be crunchy when you are ready to serve is worth more than you’ll save from switching from incandescent to CFL or LED (light-emitting diode) lighting!
- 1 lb. Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
- 1 T. butter
- ½ tsp. paprika, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 1 c. whole milk
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 c. shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, aged Gouda, etc.)
Peel potatoes and cut in half. (And yes I peel my potatoes for this recipe, because boiled potato skins tend to become tough.) Then slice each half potato into 1/3-inch slices. Place in a covered pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add a goodly amount of kosher salt, cover and cook until just about tender. (You don’t want mushy potatoes, so watch carefully). Drain. Meanwhile, brown butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add paprika and cornstarch and let burble in pan for about a minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cheese. Adjust seasoning. (The sauce will be very thick.) Carefully add the cheese sauce to the potatoes. Scoop mixture into a lightly buttered casserole pan and sprinkle lightly with additional paprika. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is starting to brown and the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the casserole dish. Let sit a few minutes before serving. Note: Don’t be afraid to mix and match the cheeses for this recipe. This dish is a perfect way to use up those bits and pieces of cheese that aren’t aging gracefully! Also, this recipe doubles and triples beautifully.