When my extended family gets together for a dinner, everyone participates by bringing a dish.
My grandfather, Bem Bem, normally is in charge of the roast. RoseMarie makes a mean ratatouille. Katrina handles dessert — she does it so well.
Me? I’ll make a few dishes, but I’m always asked to bring the scalloped potatoes. This may seem pretty pedestrian, but sometimes basic is just what we need. Something familiar and homey. These scalloped potatoes are simple, but they deliver.
While they are synonymous with big family gatherings — they are also perfect for more intimate suppers. I’ve served them in buffet-style casseroles as well as individual ramekins. This recipe is versatile.
It adapts to all seasons and goes with virtually any protein. I’ve served them with rack of lamb, oven roasted ham, various incarnations of pork tenderloin, even grilled veal chops and fish. To me, this simple preparation elevates the humble spud to “special-food” status. You don’t get the same ooh’s and aah’s from a plain baked potato.
Use the slicing attachment on your food processor or a mandoline to make quick work of slicing the potatoes. Layer the potatoes, onions and bechamel ending with the last of the sauce and a few pats of butter.
I cover with foil for the first part of the baking, so it doesn’t get too dark on top, then reduce the heat and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and beautifully enveloped in the herbed bechamel.
Sometimes simple is best and these potatoes really taste like home.
There’s no cheese in this recipe (but I’ll look the other way, if you want to toss in some shredded gruyere).
creamy scalloped potatoes with thyme
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 medium onion diced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place a saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Using a whisk, swirl the butter around in the pan until it's almost melted. Add the flour and stir briskly to incorporate the flour and butter. Sprinkle in the mustard and salt and continue to cook for one minute over medium heat. Whisk in the milk and continue to stir, until the liquid comes to a rolling boil. Constantly stir and scrape the bottom of the pan while the sauce continues to cook and thicken, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme leaves and black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
Spray an 8x8" baking dish with vegetable spray. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the béchamel (milk mixture) into the bottom of the dish.
Sprinkle lightly with onions. Arrange potatoes in the bottom of the dish, overlapping as you go. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the onions. Pour 1/4 of the béchamel evenly over the potatoes. Continue layering in the same manner: Potatoes, onions, béchamel; potatoes, onions, béchamel. Finish with a layer of potatoes, topped by the last bit of béchamel.
Place baking dish onto a rimmed baking sheet. Spray a piece of tin foil on one side with vegetable spray. Tent the foil over the potatoes and place into the hot oven. Set timer for 45 minutes.
After timer goes off, reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove the tin foil. Continue to bake for an additional 45 minutes.
Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.