When it comes to comfort food, it’s hard to top these cheesy scalloped potatoes. Even if you are cooking for two, there is nothing better than having a pan of these to graze from throughout the week.
Scalloped potatoes is the American name for potatoes gratin. I’ve always felt the French version seemed a little fancy, if you know what I mean – delicious, don’t get me wrong, but best reserved for special occasions.
Scalloped potatoes, on the other hand, seem a bit more “everyday.” Perhaps this is because, like many people my age, I probably first encountered them straight from a box.
There are many variations on the recipe, but they mostly all consist of layers of thinly sliced potatoes bathed in a thick sauce of milk or cream. Plenty of variables come into play (milk or cream, Parmesan or Gruyere, fresh herbs or not).
Both baking potatoes, such as russets, and boiling potatoes, like Yukon Gold, will work. Baking potatoes are low-moisture, meaning they won’t hold their shape as well as other types, but their starches help create a thick, silky sauce. Boiling potatoes hold up a bit better during baking and remain more firm. I say, just use what you have on hand or what you know you like.
Some recipes call for assembling the dish and then baking low-and-slow, but I prefer par-cooking the potatoes on the stove before they go in the oven, which ensures the potatoes are seasoned evenly throughout. You can use water, stock, milk, cream or any mix of the two to parboil.
Scalloped potatoes are definitely a recipe worth keeping in your arsenal, especially for nights when you deserve an extra special treat. These are scrumptious served warm from the oven but I think they get even better as they cool.
In fact, I actually prefer them cooked and reheated the next day.
Scalloped Potatoes With Onions and Cheddar Cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cups whole milk (or 2 cups milk and 2 cups water)
2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard (or dry mustard powder)
2 1/2 pounds (about 6 medium) baking potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a medium-sized (1 1/2- to 2-quart) gratin or baking dish.
MELT the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the milk (or milk and water), garlic and Dijon mustard, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.
SLICE the potatoes to 1/8 inch thick, using a food processor or mandoline for even thickness. (Do not rinse the potatoes.) Add the potatoes to the milk and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. They should still have some resistance when poked with a paring knife.
USE a slotted spoon to transfer half of the potatoes and onions to the baking dish. (Discard the milk or save for another culinary use.) Season the potatoes generously with salt and pepper and top with 3/4 cup cheddar cheese. Cover with the remaining potato mixture, season again with salt and pepper and top with remaining cheese. Pour the cream evenly over the potatoes and cheese.
BAKE until crisp and golden on top, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving. (Leftovers make a great breakfast side dish.)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.