Monday, March 7, 2016

Garlic Scalloped Potatoes (S is for Side Dish)

Scalloped potatoes are something my mother used to make often.   I will readily admit they were from a box, but we loved them - they made the thought of vegetables go down much more easily.  When you're a child who isn't a fan of peas or green beans, it was this sauce that became the superhero of dinner

 Making them from scratch isn't difficult, but I always struggled with the prep and baking time - -after all, I was used to having them take only 20 minutes on the stove, not an hour in the oven.  I think the hardest part is making sure your potatoes are sliced properly.  Too thick, and they take forever to cook. Too thin, and the slices disintegrate into  the sauce. It really is important to take your time to slice them carefully, and then lay them out in the pan.  Yes, they look pretty that way, but it also helps them cook evenly.   You can use an oval pan (more traditional), a rectangular baking dish, or even a round cake pan.  Just make sure you grease it well (or else the potatoes will stick).

Every hero needs a side dish - on a slightly smaller plate!  Serve these with any dinner, and you can be the hero!

Super Scalloped Potatoes

3 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp + 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup flour (gluten free mix or regular)
1/4 cup whole roasted garlic OR 2 Tbsp garlic powder
4 cups (one quart) milk (cow's milk or unsweetened dairy free alternative
salt and pepper
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using the first bit of oil, thoroughly oil your baking pan. Make sure to get into where the bottom and sides meet, as well as to the tops of the sides.

2.  Cut off the ends of the onion, and cut in half from the root to stem ends. Peel the skin off.

3. Thinly slice the onion.  (This is called a "French" cut.)

4.  Heat a wide saucepan.  When it's hot, add the second 2 Tbsp of oil to the saucepan, and then the onions.  Saute the onions until they are translucent and turn slightly golden.

5.  While the onions are cooking, wash and slice the potatoes.  (I like leaving the peels on since there's so much nutrition in them, but you can peel them if you like.)

6. Arrange the bottom layer of potatoes in the greased baking dish so that they are slightly overlapping.  Follow with a layer of onion - use about half the onions.  Repeat the potato - onion layers, and then finish with a final round of potatoes.

7.  If you're using roasted garlic cloves, place them and the milk in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  If you're using the garlic powder, hold it aside for now.

8.  Using the now-empty pot from the onions, add the 1/4 cup oil.  When it is hot, add the flour, whisking constantly to make a blond roux.  Cook for about 2 minutes.

9.  Add the milk to the flour, whisking constantly so the roux dissolves into the milk.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn.

10.  When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.  Add the garlic powder, and the salt and pepper (to taste) and nutmeg, if desired.

11. Pour the cream sauce over the potatoes.  (Hint: If you don't trust yourself, put the casserole dish on the baking rack then pour the sauce over.)  Spread it so that it falls into all the empty spaces.

12.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a paring knife slides easily into the center of the casserole.

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