Homemade Scalloped Potatoes (And a Surprise)
It’s almost time to plant potatoes here and I’m happily trying to use up potatoes left from last year. We had buried a bushel of potatoes in the garden for over winter and recently retrieved them and they were in great shape: firm and no eyes on them yet and perfect.
So for a potluck at work, I planned to take a huge dish of scalloped potatoes. I got two bonuses out of the effort (no, not the money kind). And scalloped potatoes do take some effort, especially slicing the potatoes.
It had been years, YEARS since I tried to make a decent dish of scalloped potatoes, usually resorting to the boxed kind because they are so easy and usually great. My children and husband were never big fans of this type of potatoes so I usually just made them when I got really hungry for them or as a dish for a potluck somewhere.
My mom has an old tool she used for making thinly sliced potatoes, a grater of sorts with a row of blades perfect for the job. But I don’t have one, rarely needing one. So for this dish I alternated between using a chopping knife and a paring knife, trying to decide which was faster. In all it took me about a half hour to prepare the dish. Worth it in the end, but not as quick as a box.
This is slightly adapted from Thelma H. Maust’s recipe in Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley (Good Books), and it is a keeper, with the first four ingredients as the basis for any white sauce.
6 Tablespoons butter (or margarine)
6 Tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 cups milk
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheese
6 cups thinly sliced or grated raw potatoes
3 Tablespoons onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1. Slice potatoes, grate cheese.
2. In saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour and salt. Keep on heat and gradually stir in milk. Continue stirring until sauce thickens and becomes smooth. Stir almost constantly to keep from scorching.
3. Gradually add cheese, stirring until mixed in thoroughly and melted.
4. Layer half of potatoes, onion, salt, pepper and sauce into greased 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Repeat layers.
5. Sprinkle with paprika if desired. (I put a bit of the grated cheese on top).
6. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Mine took about 1 hour 15 minutes due to thickness of some of the potatoes, and I had to up the temperature to about 400 for the last 15.
The surprise. I took one taste of the sauce with the cheese melted in and I said to myself (or my cats): Broccoli soup! I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to try making the white sauce part and adding ingredients for broccoli soup the next day. More about that next week. The other bonus was I had enough left over (there was plenty of food at the potluck) to serve my family who had all come home for a big photo shoot with a professional photographer (more about that next week too). I knew the scalloped potatoes were a hit with the family when that dish got gobbled up and one son-in-law, quietly in his understated way, said something like “I wouldn’t mind more scalloped potatoes.” Um yum. (Below, my very last serving in a ramekin. Good to the last time.)
Do you grow potatoes? By what date do you try to get your potatoes planted? Do you buy seed potatoes or use old potatoes from last year?
What are you favorite variations on scalloped potatoes? What do you add?
There are plenty of other good recipes from Shenandoah Valley Mennonite cooks in my recipe book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Dinner.
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