One of my favorite childhood dishes on blustery spring days was scalloped potatoes. A serving of these simple, creamy potatoes could make even the worst day better.
Layers of potatoes are flavored with sweet, thinly sliced onion rings and bathed in milk or half and half. The traditional ingredient in these classic potatoes is flour. The potatoes benefit from the flour and milk mixture, since it becomes a creamy sauce as the potatoes bake. The onion layers provide a sweet undertone of flavor. These are first cooked covered to allow the potatoes to slowly steam and soften and then finished uncovered so a crust can form.
You will have an even creamier result if you use baking potatoes (russets, often called an Idaho potato) since they take on a softer texture during cooking. This hearty potato casserole can be served in a variety of ways. Accompany this with simple roasted meats, chicken or fish. You could also serve this as a vegetarian dish along with sauteed green beans, spinach or zucchini.
I cook them without cheese, but feel free to add a cup of grated Gruyère to the layers if you like that additional flavor.
If you are a crust lover, remember that a shallow baking dish actually cooks more evenly and allows for much more topping than a taller dish. Other helpful tips:
• Look for potatoes that are firm, smooth-skinned and dark brown. Make sure there is no green discoloration on the potato.
• Keep potatoes in a cool, dark place, and make sure you remove the plastic bag; otherwise, they will go bad very quickly.
• If you are adding cheese, choose other favorite melting cheeses like Fontina, Gouda or Comte.