Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Potatoes

After our potato-induced frenzy the other day, I decided I needed to make another scalloped potato dish - partly so you get to see the final shot of a delicious potato casserole, and partly because it was so darn good we needed a repeat performance.

As you can see from comparing these two dishes, the recipe is just meant to be a guide. You can add or forgo the ham, switch in any cheese you want, double up on the root vegetables...there are lots of yummy possibilities here.

And by the way, if you're wondering what the different between au gratin and scalloped is, apparently, the answer is not much. Some say au gratin is simply French for "with cheese" - though it's usually based in a cream sauce - whereas a scalloped dish is an American term for any casserole with a creamy sauce, cheese or not. If anyone knows the final word on the great au gratin vs. scalloped debate, please do share.

Scalloped Potatoes and Carrots
4 large red skinned potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick*
1/2 onion, sliced thin
4 carrots, halved and sliced into 1 inch chunks
Salt and pepper
For the sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

Preheat the oven to 400. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for a minute or two to incorporate. Add the milk, salt, pepper and thyme. Raise the heat to medium high and continue cooking, stirring often until the mixture just begins to boil and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add the shredded cheese and stir to combine. Set aside.

Butter the bottom of a large shallow casserole dish. Arrange half the potato slices, onions and carrots on the bottom. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, sprinkling again with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

*If you slice the potatoes ahead of time, you can keep them covered in cold water so they don't turn brown. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly before using.

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