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Easy, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Hearty scalloped potato casserole

Hearty scalloped potato casserole

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Scalloped potatoes are especially tasty with the addition of cheese.

Instead of boiling potatoes on the stove top, this dish is prepared by slicing and layering potatoes and placing them in a greased casserole dish. You then pour cheesy white sauce over the potatoes. You top this casserole with breadcrumbs, then cook it in the oven for an easy and hands-free dinner dish.

While you can get by with sprinkling sifting flour over the potato layers and pouring milk over the contents, this will not give you a dish that stands out. You want flavor, a creamy center, and a bubbling top.

Go the extra mile; make a thick white sauce and add cheese to it, top your potato layers with more cheese, and make sure to sprinkle breadcrumbs over your casserole. The results will be worth the extra effort, and your final product will have a much richer taste and a pleasantly crunchy topping.

For feeding a crowd, this is an ideal way of preparing potatoes—and it is much easier to cook a large quantity in the oven than on top of the stove. Once you pop your casserole in the oven, you can pretty much forget about it, and you do not have to worry about boil-over.

Leftovers can be frozen in small freezer containers, thereby saving time on meal preparation for future dinners. And the dish is just as good reheated—especially if you have some leftover ham to add in.

A creamy scalloped potato casserole with potatoes, milk, cheese and other flavorful ingredients.

A creamy scalloped potato casserole with potatoes, milk, cheese and other flavorful ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 potatoes
  • 1 onion (peel and slice or chop 1 onion and set aside)
  • 3 tbsp. butter (for white sauce)
  • 2 cups milk or cream (for white sauce)
  • 3 tbsp. flour (for white sauce)
  • 1 cup cheese, grated (for white sauce)
  • 1-2 cups cheese, grated (for topping casserole)
  • Ham (optional)
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Green onions (for garnish)

Instructions

Step 1. Potato Preparation

  1. Start with 6-8 potatoes.
  2. Peel them.
  3. Rinse them.
  4. Slice them thinly.
Start with 6-8 potatoes

Start with 6-8 potatoes

Peel and rinse

Peel and rinse

Slice thinly to reduce cooking time

Slice thinly to reduce cooking time

Step 2. Make the White Sauce With Cheese

After you've prepped your potatoes, you'll want to make a white sauce. This is easy to do and takes minutes, and it makes a critical difference in this dish's flavor. Some cooks simply pour milk over their potatoes, but I would not recommend this. You can use either milk, cream, or half and half. If you use cream, this dish will have a richer flavor.

Another thing to consider is seasoning your white sauce. We've all tasted scalloped potatoes that tasted bland, and we maybe had a hard time eating them. (I remember my mother used to make an unappetizing dish that even the dog wouldn't eat.) I like adding onion powder because this gives the potatoes extra flavor. Onion powder goes especially well with cheese.

A good casserole tastes every bit as good cold or when reheated. (I like to fry my leftovers and they taste delicious cooked this way.)

Many people feel intimidated at the thought of making a white sauce, but this is an easy and fail-proof recipe. Once you know how to do it, you'll find yourself making it as a topper for other dishes, such as homemade noodles, eggplant casserole, or as a sauce for vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • 1 cup grated cheese of your choice (You can use mild, medium or sharp cheddar cheese). I usually use a medium flavor. Using medium to sharp cheese adds more flavor to your casserole.

Optional Seasonings:

  • Paprika
  • Seasoning salt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion powder (onion powder goes very well with cheese and adds a nice flavor)

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter, and whisk in the flour.
  2. Add the milk and simmer until white sauce is thickened.
  3. Stir in 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese. Set aside until ready to add to potatoes.

Grate another cup or two of cheese and set aside. This will be sprinkled into the casserole later. The amount of cheese you use is based on preference. Those watching fat may choose to use less; those who want a cheesy casserole will use more.

White sauce in the making

White sauce in the making

Thickened sauce

Thickened sauce

Adding cheese to white sauce

Adding cheese to white sauce

Incorporate cheese as it melts

Incorporate cheese as it melts

Step 3. Assemble the Casserole

You now have your ingredients prepared and are set to assemble your casserole.

  1. Grease a large casserole dish.
  2. Make a first layer by adding potatoes, onions, and white sauce.
  3. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over this first layer.
  4. If desired, sprinkle a little salt over.
  5. Add a second layer of potatoes, onions, and white sauce.
  6. Top with remaining grated cheese.
  7. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of scalloped potatoes (if you can find seasoned bread crumbs, all the better).

Step 4. Bake the Casserole

  1. Cook covered in a preheated oven at 350 for 1 hour.
  2. Test potatoes by piercing them with a fork.
  3. Halfway through cooking, run a knife around the edge of the casserole dish to prevent potatoes from sticking.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and continue cooking until potatoes are done.
  5. If liquid dries out, add more milk.
  6. Uncover towards end of cooking time so that cheese becomes crispy.

Cooking time will vary depending on how many potatoes are used. A larger pan of potatoes may require a longer time in the oven.

Additional Optional Ingredients

  • Green Onions: Finely chopped green onions are a good garnish if you have them on hand.
  • Ham: If you have left-over ham, cut it into cubes and add it to your dish. Ham lends a wonderful flavor. This is great for a "second-day" helping.
  • Bacon: Precooked and crumbled bacon can also be added 10 minutes before removing the dish from the oven.

Cooking Tips

  • Shred your cheese ahead of time and freeze in containers.
  • Use cheddar cheese because it has more flavor.
  • Use vegetable shortening or lard to grease your baking pan.
  • Slice potatoes thinly and evenly to cut cooking time and so that all get evenly cooked.
  • Leave room at the top of your baking dish so that ingredients do not boil over in the oven.
  • When the dish is removed from the oven, run a knife around the edge to loosen it before the cheese hardens and makes removal difficult (this also makes for easier clean-up later).
  • For extra flavor, add chopped ham.

A Word About Scalloped Potatoes

In cooking terminology, a dish such as scalloped potatoes was also known as a gratin. A gratin is a cooking style whereby something is cooked from scratch in the oven. The dish is topped with a browned crust, usually accomplished by using milk, eggs, cheese, or breadcrumbs and then baking or broiling in the oven. This results in a tasty, crispy crust.

The recipe you see here is also known as a gratin with potatoes. In North America, it would be known as "scalloped potatoes" or "potatoes au gratin."

Potatoes are a good vegetable to use in gratin-style dishes because they bake up to a nice consistency, and adding milk, cream, or cheese is a good idea for both richness and for creaminess.

© 2008 Athlyn Green