Friday, September 30, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses

Tender, soft pillows of potato and onion quilted with cheese and cream. What is not to like?

Use fresh cheeses for a great scalloped potato dish.

The first time I made this was for a family Christmas served alongside a beef tenderloin. Relatives still talk about it. What's not to like? Creamy potatoes baked with cheddar, Parmesan and blue cheese. Use quality cheeses that you grate yourself. If I use blue cheese, I generally use Maytag Blue. For the recipe below, I used Gorgonzola. Instead of using all milk, I use about 2/3 whole milk and 1/3 half-and-half. Either way, don't use reduced-fat milk. It's not unusual for the potatoes to look "curdled" during baking. That's okay. It generally works into a creamy sauce with the cheese. I generally use a mixture of shallots and yellow onions. 

A mandoline makes easy work of grating the potatoes. Do not use boiling or waxy potatoes. You want starchy Idaho spuds. 

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
  • 3/4 cup grated (packed) extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces) I prefer white, not yellow
  • 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or Gorgonzola (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup grated (packed) fresh-grated Parmesan (about 1 1/4 ounces) do NOT use the canned stuff
  • [I probably use a bit more of all the cheeses]
  • 4 pounds Russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch rounds (I think 1/8 is better)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided (I prefer Kosher)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (I use a combo of onions and shallots)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups whole milk (I've never used just milk. I use a combination of whole milk and half-and-half or all half-and-half)

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Butter or spray a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish (I recommend spraying with Pam).

In a medium bowl, mix together all the cheeses. Set aside.

Grate potatoes. Set aside. Either grate or finely chop the onion/shallot. Set aside.

Measure milk/cream mixture in a glass measuring cup. Microwave until warm. Set aside.

Using half of the potatoes carefully arrange them in rows in the baking dish, overlapping slightly. I go one row down the length, and then the second row across the width. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Evenly sprinkle the onion mixture over it then the flour. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over this and reserve the rest of the cheese. 

Now top with the rest of the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and dot with remaining two tablespoons butter.

Pour warmed milk over the potatoes (it will not cover them completely). Tightly cover the dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil (liquid may look curdled, that's okay, especially if using all whole milk). Evenly scatter the rest of the cheese over casserole. Bake an additional 45 minutes, uncovered until cheese is a deep golden brown and potatoes are tender and creamy.

Oh, my!

Remove from oven. Let sit a good 20-30 minutes before serving.

This recipe is easily halved. Bake in an 8 x 8 dish and adjust cooking time accordingly. I bake it covered for about 35 minutes and then uncovered for about another 40 minutes or so.

(This may be prepared two hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover and re-warm in 375 F. oven for about 20 minutes)

NOTES: People always love to add more cheese. Be careful. More cheese may add more oil and grease, not necessarily taste. A little cheese with potatoes goes a long way.

Cover with milk just until the top is barely covered or it will boil over. The trickiest part of scalloped potatoes is bake time. It's easy to underbake them. 

How much milk you use depends on the thickness of your potatoes. 

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