Thursday, 11 February 2010

The 21st Century Housewife's© Scalloped Potatoes

My Mom really wasn’t one of those people who love cooking, but she was a very good cook nonetheless. One of the dishes she was famous for was her scalloped potatoes. They were voluptuous comfort food at its best. Thinly sliced potatoes and onion nestled in amongst a rich, creamy sauce that seemed to make itself. Mom never wrote her recipe down, because she maintained it was “hardly a recipe” but she talked me through it many, many times. Despite this, I never really quite got the hang of it, and my scalloped potatoes were always either too runny or not creamy enough. They certainly never tasted remotely like hers, so I kind of gave up.

It was not until about a week ago that I tried her recipe again as part of my Family Food History and Recipe Project. Perhaps it is because I am a more experienced cook than I was all those years ago, but suddenly, this time I got much closer to the wonderful dish I remember after only a couple attempts. I’m not sure it’s Mom’s exact recipe, but it sure does taste very similar.

Scalloped potatoes are a wonderfully easy dish (I honestly don’t know why I struggled so with them before) and they are a great one to make ahead. I use my oval Le Creuset casserole for this. Preheat your oven to about 200℃ or 400℉ and then all you need is:-

3 to 4 large potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 large mild onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 generous tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon of cold butter, cut in small pieces
2 cups of milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Put a layer of potato slices on the bottom of the casserole, overlapping slightly. Follow with a layer of onion slices. Sprinkle evenly with one generous tablespoon of flour.

Make another layer of potato slices on top of the flour, again overlapping slightly. Follow with another layer of onion slices. Sprinkle evenly with one generous tablespoon of flour.

Top the flour with a final layer of potato slices, being sure to overlap them slightly. Evenly distribute the pieces of cold butter over top of the potato. At this point, it should look like this:-

Heat the 2 cups of milk in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm. (I usually microwave on high for two minutes.) Stir in the salt and pepper. Carefully pour the hot milk over the potato and onion layers.

Cover the casserole with foil and put in the oven for half an hour. Remove the casserole from the oven, and remove the foil. Using a fork, carefully push the potato slices so that they are mostly under the milk. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for another thirty to forty minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the top is turning golden brown.

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