Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

There are many ways to make delicious scalloped potatoes. For this version, I consulted several books—Kitchen Sense, two James Beards, and the Joy of Cooking. Basically you layer thinly sliced potatoes with any number of extras—cheese, onions, parsley—add milk or cream, and bake. The potatoes absorb the liquid as they cook, the cheese melts, the top gets browned.

One tip: use a shallow casserole dish. The one I used here ended up stacking the potatoes a little too high and I had to add a half hour or so to the cooking time. What you don’t want is crispy browned on top and not-cooked-enough potatoes inside. If you need a faster cooking time, Joy of Cooking recommends parboiling the potatoes first for a few minutes.

  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Cook: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

You'll need 2 slices of cooked bacon for this recipe, so start the bacon cooking and then prep the other ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs (about 4 medium sized) Russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (optional)
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups of half-and-half (half milk, half cream)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a large casserole dish with 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter. If you use a casserole dish that is about 9x13 (bigger than the one shown) you'll have more surface area, more of the potatoes will brown, and the cooking time will be faster.

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2 Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with a third of the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer on half of the sliced onions and 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese. Layer on half of the bacon, and half of the parsley and chives. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.

Repeat by layering on a third of the potato slices, sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Layer on the remaining sliced onions, 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese, the remaining bacon, parsley and chives. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.

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Top the casserole with the remaining potato slices. Add the half and half. Dot the potatoes with the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter.

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3 Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for one hour. After an hour, remove from the oven, remove the foil, sprinkle on the remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for an additional 30 to 40 minutes. When done, the potatoes should be tender, but not mushy, and the liquid should be mostly absorbed.

For a faster cooking time, you can first parboil the sliced potatoes for 8 minutes in boiling water, patting them dry, and then layer them in the casserole pan. Bake for roughly 20 minutes covered and 15 to 25 minutes uncovered, or until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Total oven cooking time is 35 to 45 minutes.

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