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Big Daddy's Most Awesome Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped potatoes have been one of my favorites since I was a kid. Now the same is true for my kids. So here is my contribution to the world of scalloped potatoes, and if I do say so myself, not too shabby.

2 cups thinly sliced onion (preferably Vidalia or Texas Sweets)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (total)
6 tablespoons flour
3½ cups whole milk
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
cup dry bread crumbs
3-4 medium potatoes, sliced thin (about 1/8")
1-1½ pounds ham, sliced to the thickness of the potatoes (optional - add more potato if ham is omitted)
black pepper to taste
cooking spray  

Preheat oven to 400º.

In a skillet sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderately low heat until the onions are soft, 3-4 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan melt the remaining butter over low heat, whisk in the flour and simmer the roux for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk gradually, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated. Allow to come to boil, and simmer until well thickened, about a minute or so. Add black pepper to taste (salt is likely not needed because of the ham.)

Coat the inside of a 2½ quart casserole dish with cooking spray.  Pour in about of the sauce. Then layer ½ of the potatoes, ½ of the ham, ½ of the onions and ½ of the shredded cheese.

Top with of the sauce and build the second layer just as the first, finishing with the remaining cheese and sauce.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and top with bread crumbs and return, uncovered, to the oven for 30 – 35 minutes (top should be browning and the potatoes tender.)

Allow at least ½ hour to cool before serving.

Notes:

Many factors influence the cooking time for the potatoes, from the thickness of the slices to the amount of ham, if any, that you include,  Use these time as guidelines, but make sure you test the doneness of the potatoes before serving,

 

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