THE KITCHN: Scalloped Potatoes with Onions and Cheddar Cheese
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, whether it's breakfast or dinner, throughout the week.
Scalloped potatoes is the American name for potatoes gratiné. 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.)
Of course there are millions of variations on the recipe, but they all usually 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) but really it all comes down to the preference of the cook. The fun is in the finding out!
Both baking potatoes, such as russets, and boiling potatoes, like Yukon Gold, work in these types of recipes. Baking potatoes are low-moisture, meaning they won't hold their shape as well as other types, but all their starches will help create a thick, silky sauce. Boiling potatoes will hold up a bit better during baking and remain more firm. I just say use what you have on hand or what you know you like.
When it comes to cooking the potatoes, some recipes call for baking them low-and-slow, but I prefer par-cooking the potatoes on the stovetop before they go in the oven, which ensures the potatoes are seasoned evenly throughout. You can use water, stock, milk, or cream, or any mix of the two to parboil the potatoes. (Sometimes flour is also added to help thicken the sauce. I don't use it in this recipe, but I might had I used boiling potatoes or wanted to eliminate the heavy cream.)
Scalloped potatoes are definitely a recipe worth keeping in your arsenal, especially for those 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
Serves 6 to 8.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter