Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes

The 'star' of the meal this past Sunday (the day we usually cook a nice meal with leftovers for the week) was Scalloped Potatoes. Scalloped potatoes is another comfort food to me. It seems like I've been eating a lot of comfort foods lately, and I guess I have, maybe because it's suddenly become so chilly. Pasta (spaghetti & meatballs, lasagna) and cheese (cheesesticks, pizza, scalloped potatoes, macaroni & cheese) are always warming & comforting to me.

I did not assist at all in preparing dinner on Sunday - it was all SP. I was busy talking on the phone and looking up flooring online. I did however, do all the clean up. And that includes scrubbing brown burnt stuff out of casseroles and baking pans.

Truthfully, I thought SP would use my mom's scalloped potato method, which is to layer potatoes, onion, butter, cheese, parsley, and flour in a baking dish and then pour milk over OR that he would use my method, which is to follow the recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (make a milk, cheese, flour, and onion sauce in a saucepan and pour it over potatoes layered in a baking pan). Both are quite simple.Instead, he got out the Cover & Bake cookbook and made their Weekday Scalloped Potatoes recipe, which is quite different. Cover & Bake is from the Cook's Illustrated people. They set out to make a lighter, convenient, tasty scalloped potato dish instead of the usual rich, diet-busting ones or the bland ones.

In my own scalloped potato experiences, I had noticed a few of the same potential 'pitfalls' that Cover & Bake set out to avoid: using too much flour to thicken the sauce but making it taste pasty and general blandness (which is why I always made cheesy scalloped potatoes). I also sometimes had trouble with the cheese sauce -- too much American cheese and it can get kind of a rubbery, gummy feel/taste, yet sometimes cheddar didn't melt well and the cheese sauce became stringy.

Here's what they came up with: Saute some onions in butter until soft. Add garlic, thyme, salt, & pepper. Cook about 30 seconds. Add peeled & sliced russet potatoes, equal parts low sodium chicken broth & heavy cream, and bay leaves. Cook about 10 minutes, discard bay leaves. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 425 until bubbling and the top is golden brown.He omitted the garlic. He used a mixture of cheddar & American cheese.

By cooking the potatoes on the stove top in the broth & cream, they released some of their starch directly into the sauce, which naturally thickened the sauce. No flour needed -- and while SP is no longer gluten free, this would be a great recipe for someone who has to live gluten free. (Yes, I know there are substitutes like arrowroot and cornstarch to thicken sauces, but this recipe eliminates the need to add a thickening agent.)These tasted amazing! I really like the chicken broth-cream combination. And the addition of thyme and bay leaves - yum! Thyme seems to pair very nicely with potatoes as we add it to roasted potatoes and we have a recipe for a creamy red potato gratin that uses thyme.They were cheesy but not too cheesy. Soft. Not gummy. I think this might be the new go-to scalloped potato recipe!

The scalloped potatoes were the star of the meal. The supporting cast was ham, with the same maple-spice glaze we used last Easter:Mmmm look at all that cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice on the end piece:And mushrooms and shallot sauteed in brandy:SP also roasted the butternut squash and acorn squash from the CSA:A homemade, comforting meal after a last second Steelers loss.

1 comment:

  1. The potatoes look REALLY good! I think I'll try your recipe next time :)