Easy Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Scalloped potatoes are especially tasty with the addition of cheese. This favorite recipe for easy cheesy scalloped potatoes makes for hearty eating.
Making scalloped potatoes is another way to cook potatoes and the addition of cheese helps to increase the flavor. Instead of cooking potatoes by boiling on top of the stove, these are sliced thinly, placed in a casserole dish, covered with a cheesy white sauce + shredded cheddar, topped with breadcrumbs and then cooked in the oven for an easy and hands-free dinner dish.
For feeding a crowd, this is an ideal way of preparing potatoes--and it is much easier to cook a large quantity of potatoes in the oven inside of on top of the stove. Once you pop your casserole in the oven, you can pretty much forget about it and you do not have to worry about boil-over.
Scalloped potatoes are prepared by layering potatoes in a greased casserole dish and then pouring milk or a white sauce over them. While you can get by with sprinkling sifting flour over the potato layers and pouring milk over the contents, this will not give you a dish that stands out in terms of flavor. You want a creamy center and a bubbling top.
Go the extra mile: make a thick white sauce and add cheese to it, top your potato layers with more cheese, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over your casserole. The results will be worth the extra effort and your final product will have a much richer taste and a pleasing crunchy topping.
Potatoes have a mild flavor, especially when baked, so adding cheddar cheese and onion, really bumps up the taste.
I like to make cheesy scalloped potatoes when I'm having a crowd in. Left-overs can be frozen in small freezer containers, thereby saving time on meal preparation for future dinners. And reheated scalloped potatoes taste every bit as good--especially if you have some left-over ham to add in.
If you have potatoes, milk, breadcrumbs and cheese on hand, you are set to make this casserole.
Cooking tip: If you shred your cheese ahead of time and store it in the freezer, a large batch of cheesy scalloped potatoes makes up in no time.
Start With 6-8 Potatoes
Slice Potatoes Thinly, Which Reduces Cooking Time
If you want your potatoes to cook faster and cook up evenly, take care when slicing them. Do not simply chop your potatoes into chunks as these will take forever to cook. Instead, slice your potatoes evenly and thinly and you will end up with a much better gratin in the end.
If you like onions, peel and slice or chop 1 onion and set aside.
Making White Sauce
You'll next make a white sauce. This is easy to do and takes minutes and it makes the critical difference when making scalloped potatoes. Some cooks simply pour milk over their potatoes but I would not recommend this. You can use either milk, cream, or half and half. If you use cream, your scalloped potatoes will have a richer flavor.
Another thing to consider is seasoning your white sauce. We've all tasted scalloped potatoes that tasted bland and we maybe had a hard time eating them. (I remember my mother used to make an unappetizing dish that even the dog wouldn't eat.) I like adding in onion powder because this gives the potatoes extra flavor. Onion powder goes especially well with cheese.
A good casserole of scalloped potatoes tastes every bit as good cold or when reheated. (I like to fry my left-over potatoes and they taste delicious cooked this way.)
Many people feel intimidated at the thought of making a white sauce but it is easy and fail-proof and once you know how to do it, you will find yourself making it as a topper for other dishes, such as Homemade Noodles or eggplant casserole or as a sauce for vegetables.
- White Sauce:
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 2 cups milk or cream
Melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Add the milk and simmer until white sauce is thickened.
Add seasonings (to taste)
- seasoning salt
- salt and pepper
- onion powder (onion powder goes very well with cheese and adds a nice flavor)
Add Grated Cheese to Your White Sauce
You can use mild, medium or sharp cheddar cheese. I usually use a medium flavor. Using medium to sharp cheese adds more flavor to your casserole.
Stir in 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese. Set aside until ready to add to potatoes.
(Grate another cup or two of cheese and set aside. This will be sprinkled into the casserole later. The amount of cheese you use is based on preference. Those watching fat may choose to use less; those who want a cheesy casserole will use more.)
* You can also use this cheese sauce as a topper for steamed broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
Doesn't That Look Good?
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Additional Ingredients for Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Green Onions--Finely chopped green onions are a good garnish if you have them on hand.
- Ham--If you have left-over ham, cut it into cubes and add it to your scalloped potatoes. Ham lends a wonderful flavor. This is great for "second-day" scalloped potatoes.
- Bacon--Precooked and crumbled bacon can also be added 10 minutes before removing scalloped potatoes from the oven.
Method for Asssembling Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
You now have your ingredients prepared and are set to assemble your casserole.
- Grease a large casserole dish.
- Make a first layer by adding potatoes and onions and white sauce.
- Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over this first layer.
- If desired, sprinkle a little salt over.
- Add a second layer of potatoes, onions and white sauce.
- Top with remaining grated cheese.
- Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of scalloped potatoes (if you can find seasoned bread crumbs, all the better).
The addition of bread crumbs adds a nice crunchiness to scalloped potatoes.
Easy Scalloped Potatoes Cooking Tips
- Shred your cheese ahead of time and freeze in containers.
- Use cheddar cheese because it has more flavor.
- Use vegetable shortening or lard to grease your baking pan.
- Slice potatoes thinly and evenly, to cut cooking time and so all are evenly cooked.
- Leave room at the top of your baking dish so that ingredients do not boil over into oven.
- When scalloped potatoes are removed from oven, run a knife around the edge to loosen before cheese hardens and makes removal difficult (this also makes for easier clean-up later).
- For extra flavor, add in chopped ham.
- Cook covered in a preheated oven at 350 for 1 hour.
- Test potatoes by piercing with a fork.
- Halfway through cooking, run a knife around the edge of the casserole dish to prevent potatoes from sticking.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 and continue cooking until potatoes are done.
- If liquid dries out, add more milk.
- Uncover towards end of cooking time so that cheese becomes crispy.
Cooking times will vary, depending on how many potatoes are used. A larger pan of potatoes may take a longer cooking time.
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What to Serve With Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Meat goes well with scalloped potatoes. Ham or pork loaf can be served along with
A Historical Look at Scalloped Potatoes
In cooking terminology, a dish such as scalloped potatoes was also known as a gratin. A gratin is a cooking style, whereby something is cooked from scratch in the oven. The dish is topped with a browned crust, usually accomplished by using milk, eggs, cheese or breadcrumbs and then baking or broiling in the oven. This results in a tasty, crispy crust.
The recipe you see here would also be known as a gratin with potatoes. In North America it would be known as scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin.
Potatoes are a good vegetable to use in gratin-style dishes because they bake up to a nice consistency, hence adding milk, cream or cheese is a good combination because you have ingredients that all contribute to a creamy consistency.
Many cooks prefer casseroles because once they are assembled, they are relatively "easy care." Busy cooks just have to check to make sure they don't over-brown.
If you have finicky eaters, dressing up potatoes with cheese may help you to encourage your children or teens to consume more vegetables.
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