Ah… scalloped potatoes, taking the humble potato up a notch into the ultimate comfort food. Scalloped potatoes can be a meal all on their own or they can be an excellent side dish. Either way you slice or dice it, these are a favorite comfort food in my house.
Let’s start with the tear jerker!
Onions, it’s all about the onions. I love onions, like I put them on everything kind of love. I never used to be this way but here I am. My favorite onions to cook with are white or yellow and if I have the choice, I always grab the sweet variety. Especially for this dish as I am playing on their sweetness and caramelization for awesome flavor.
This is the most time consuming part of the dish but so worth it! Slice the onions by cutting a whole onion in half and then slicing that half. I want long stringy onions here, I am not going for diced. Two onions here will get the job done, I know it sounds like a lot but when they cook down their quantity also decreases.
In the heat of it.
I am going to start by heating quarter stick of butter in a sauté pan that is large enough for my initial amount of onions. Once the butter is melted, I add a tablespoon of caraway seed and let them get all happy in the butter. If you don’t like caraway seed, you can skip them. They were an acquired taste for me but now I love the flavor they lend to this dish. After the caraway is happily drunk on the butter, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Make sure your heat is on low. We aren’t trying to fry them but caramelize them. This takes time and some love. Stir them every few minutes. We are cooking them down to an almost translucent golden color. I like to do this ahead of time so they have a little bit of chance to cool and aren’t burning me while I am putting the dish together. I typically cook this up and then let it sit while I am prepping my potatoes.
All about the gold!
Yukon Gold is my favorite variety for this dish. When the potatoes are cooking, they don’t get mushy and they have a nice flavor that plays well with whatever spices you wish to pair with them. I use Red potatoes as well though, I recommend using the potato variety you like. Just make sure they don’t turn to mush easily when cooked.
Potato prep is simple for this dish. Wash the spuds and get ready to cut. I leave the skins on partially because I am just too lazy to peel them and also because those peels add a lot of nutritional goodness to our diets. I’ll take whatever I can get in that department. After I’ve washed them, I grab a sharp knife and get to cutting in slices. I want my slices to be thick enough that they don’t melt away but not so thick that they take an eternity to cook. No one wants to wait that long for this awesome potatoey goodness! Lets say around an 1/8 of an inch thick is a good measure. Once you have these sliced up set them aside.
I’ve got my 9×13 pan, potatoes, onions, cheese, flour, and cream ready to go, all set up assembly line style. The first step is to line the bottom of the pan with a layer of potatoes. Next is take a spoon and sprinkle flour evenly over the potatoes. Scatter 1/3 of the onions on top, 1/3 of the cheese, and then drizzle with heavy cream. Just enough cream to get everything wet but not drenched. Think of it as the summer rain shower that is just enough to dampen the surface and cool the atmosphere down. Between the fats in the cheese and the cream, the flour will cook in a manner that gives us that creamy goodness that makes this dish. Repeat with a layer of potatoes, flour, onions, cheese, and cream. You’ll have 3 layers by the time your done.
That’s it! Throw some aluminum foil over the dish and pop it in a preheated 350 degree oven. These will mellow out in the heat for 50-60 minutes. Once I can spear the center with a fork and not meet resistance, they are done! I then take the aluminum foil off and sprinkle with more cheese, usually around a cup… We like our cheese here, the more melty goodness, the better… for our taste buds anyways, maybe not so much on the hips. Let this cheese get melty and bubbly and take these bad boys out of the oven. I like to let them sit for about 10 minutes to rest and come together, then dive in.
Dressing it up!
Now, the recipe above is the perfect side dish. How do you make this a meal? Ham is one way. In between your layers add diced or sliced deli ham. How much depends on how protein heavy you want the dish to be. If I am using deli ham, I put an even layer just like the potatoes. You can do the same with turkey. Precooked Italian sausage, or any regular breakfast sausage is great too.
How about a Philly cheesesteak version? Replace the cheddar cheese with provolone. Add cooked, thinly sliced steak, and sautéd bell peppers. Yumm!