Wednesday, April 4, 2012

FAMILY FAVORITE CHEEZY SCALLOPED POTATOES

When I asked Robbie, Robbie what her favorite foods are she didn’t even hesitate. She said, “Guacamole Cheese Crisp and your Scalloped Potatoes.”





The Guacamole Cheese Crisp she is referring to is from Casa Molina in Tucson. 

When I’m in doubt about what casserole to add to a meal when the children are going to be eating with us, I always make this recipe.

We have it for Easter or Christmas with ham, other times with pork chops, and if I want them to come for fresh-caught fried  trout, scalloped potatoes is the enticement.

As a rule, scalloped potatoes don’t have cheese. They become Potatoes Au Gratin when cheese is added. Well, as you might suspect, I managed to tweak both recipes into my own version.

I vaguely remember why. I think it went something like this.

Potatoes Au Gratin recipes often have chopped onion, chopped green bell pepper, garlic and maybe even some chopped pimento in them.

I wanted my children to eat them so all of those ingredients were eliminated and I ended up with what we call “scalloped potatoes that have cheese in them”.

As usual, there are probably more directions here then you need. Keep in mind that this is Cooking One…not 101 or 10 but 1. My goal is that my grandchildren and beyond will be able to pick up this cookbook…or download it…or whatever the method ends up being…and be able to cook a few special recipes.

Maybe their robots can be programmed to do it. Nothing would surprise me.

If you’re doing it the old-fashioned way…i.e. 21st Century…here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Makes 6-8 servings.

You will need:
2-½ quart casserole dish with a lid or use foil
Measuring spoons
Ladle for spooning sauce into casserole
Large pan with lid for boiling potatoes
Medium pan for making cheese sauce, no lid required
Wire whisk
Cheese grater

Ingredients:

One 5-pound bag of potatoes (check for rotten ones by smelling the bag and feeling for potatoes with soft spots.)
4-tablespoons white flour
4-tablespoons unsalted butter
4-cups whole milk                                                       
1-teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Shaker of black pepper
Shaker of garlic salt

4-cups or about 1 ½-pounds shredded fresh sharp cheddar cheese

Note: Please don’t use the bag of cheese that is already shredded. It is coated with flour and is not as good as when you shred it yourself.




Process:

Peel and rinse all of the potatoes

Cut the potatoes in half cross-wise (not length-wise) or in thirds if they are large.

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water.


Place the pot of potatoes on the stove on high heat until they come to a boil.

Lower the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer the potatoes for 15 minutes. (They shouldn’t be too soft or you won’t be able to slice them. They will cook more later in the oven.)

Drain the potatoes in a strainer over the sink and set aside to cool.




Now, make the sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat.

When the butter is completely melted, add the flour, a little at a time, mixing it in well with the wire whisk.

As you whisk it, it will start to thicken. Make sure the heat isn’t too hot or it will burn. The heat can’t be too low or the flour won’t get cooked. If the flour doesn’t get cooked, the sauce will taste like flour.

This takes patience. It should be called “The Patience Sauce” instead of White Sauce. Keep in mind that this is also a good sauce for Macaroni and Cheese and for making any cream gravy with additional instructions, of course.




When the flour and butter mixture has had a chance to simmer and bubble for a few minutes, add 1-teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper to the mixture and mix it in.

Let this all simmer for another minute or so.

Slowly start adding the milk, a little at a time, mixing it in with the whisk.

The mixture will instantly get very thick. That is good.

Keep adding the milk to the mixture in the pot, mixing it in until the mixture has the consistency of cream gravy. 

Add two cups of shredded cheese to the sauce and gently mix it in until it is melted.

Let the sauce simmer on the stove on medium-low heat until you’re ready to assemble the casserole.

Now, when slightly cooled, slice the potatoes into ¼ inch slices, more or less.

Set aside the sliced potatoes on a large plate.

Grease the casserole on the bottom and all sides with a pat of butter on a piece of the wrapper from the stick of butter. Yes, you can use a vegetable spray.  




Ladle some cheese sauce into the casserole so that it covers the bottom completely with a thin layer. This will keep the potatoes from sticking.   

Put in a generous layer of sliced potatoes on top of the sauce.     

Now, ladle more sauce across the top of the potatoes. 




Sprinkle a few shakes of garlic salt and black pepper across this layer.

Scatter some shredded cheddar cheese on this layer.

Repeat the layers two more times, ending with cheese on top.

You should have three layers of potatoes and sauce and cheese.




Cover the casserole with a lid or with foil and put in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Uncover the casserole and cook another 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Enjoy!!







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