Joe’s birthday was a little over a week ago and he asked for scalloped potatoes as part of his birthday dinner. Though it happened to fall 3 days before my book was due he still got a made-from-scratch meal.
I’d never made this dish for him before. After taking one bite he wanted to know why it took me so long. I just smiled and said I didn’t think he liked potatoes cooked this way.
Between us, though, I have to keep a few tricks up my sleeve. I learned a long time ago it’s not smart to lay all my cards on the table at once.
When Joe walked in the door, the table was set, candles were lit, and his gifts were beautifully wrapped and stacked at one end of the table. I was even fully dressed with make-up and everything.
The entire menu:
- Hot Crab Dip with Warm Tortilla Chips (He saw this on Paula Dean a month ago and said he wanted to try it.)
- Herbs de Provence Roasted Chicken
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Thyme Infused Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Apple Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
This pie crust recipe will be in my book…I’ve made so many
different crusts and this one is it. It’s melt-in-your-mouth flaky.
A note about the pictures: Since it was Joe’s birthday I quickly snapped a few pics – my apologies for the less than creative photos. This meal was about him and I just couldn’t have him waiting on dinner so I could take pictures. These potatoes are incredible and I wasn’t going to let a less than perfect picture keep me from sharing them with you.
This dish is based on the scalloped potatoes my Grandma Ruth made for the holidays every year, which is why I wanted to share them with you now. Ruthie didn’t use Gruyere and White Cheddar but I can’t resist that combination. Though I was going to use Yukon Gold potatoes, after talking with Helen I opted for good ol’ starchy russets. It’s true when they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
What man can resist a big pan of cheesy, starchy potatoes?
Not mine. You know he’s not big on leftovers but he ate these for dinner every night for 3 days in a row.
Serves: 6 - 8 servings
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup Amy’s Basic Flour Blend
- 2 cups 1% milk
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- a few grates of fresh nutmeg
- 2½ pounds good ol’ russet potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly mist a 7 x 11 (2 quart) baking dish with cooking spray. (This dish bakes best in a shallow dish.)
- Wash & peel the potatoes, then slice them in half. Cut into ⅛ inch thick pieces. Place in cold water until the sauce is ready.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes until it’s fragrant but not brown. While whisking constantly, add the milk a little at a time, whisking it in fully before adding more. If you add it too quickly you’ll have a lumpy sauce. Add in thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens, about 8 – 10 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon and you should be able to draw a line through the sauce and it should ‘hold,’ or not run. In culinary school, this is called being at the nape stage.
- Remove thyme sprig and then take thickened milk off the heat. Stir in the gruyere and cheddar until melted. Quickly drain potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel. Add half of potatoes to prepared baking dish, cover with half of the cheese sauce. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese. Cover and bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 40 minutes until potatoes are fork tender and top has browned in spots. Let sit for 10 minute before serving.