Scalloped potatoes was one of the first dishes I cooked for my family as a child. I learned from my mother to layer the thinly sliced potatoes, with herbs and spices, grated cheese, a thin dusting of flower and a few dots of butter. And I was extra generous with the black pepper–in each layer–in those days. These days I toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and then more or less level them out in the baking dish–same delicious result.
Variations include lots of chopped herbs like parsley, marjoram, chives or oregano, diced bacon or slices of sausage, minced garlic, finely chopped greens or peppers, etc. You can also use half potatoes and half celery root for a lovely variation. In that case, adding fresh or dried thyme is delicious.
2 1/2 – 3 lbs firm fleshed potatoes like Yukon gold (not Russets), scrubbed and thinly sliced into rounds (blade on box grater works well)
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar, emmental, gruyere, . . .
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika–spicy or mild)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup flour
About 3 1/2 cups liquid: all whole milk, part milk, part cream, part half & half, part veg or chicken stock, but be sure it’s at least 1/2 milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put the potatoes in a large bowl. In a small bowl mix the flour and spices together. Sprinkle this over the potatoes and toss well. Add the onions and almost all of the cheese (reserving some for the top) and mix again.
Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 baking dish, pat down a bit with a spatula. Pour milk (or liquid combo) over potato mixture. The liquid should come about half way up the potatoes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, cover pan with foil and bake until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork about 45 70 minutes. Uncover after about 30 minutes and finish baking until tender and run under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top if you’d like. Cooking time will depend on how thinly you sliced your potatoes. Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.