Yield: 4 servings Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour
Texture is an important factor when it comes to food. I love when something creamy is contrasted by a nice crunch. It would be similar, I suppose, to the salty and sweet phenomenon. Opposing flavors and textures stimulate our senses and leave us wanting more.
To update the classic scalloped potatoes and ham, I was looking for something to add a nice crunchy crust which I feel is often lacking from this dish. I recently came across a new ingredient called Onion Crunch. Think French’s fried onions brought to the 21st century. Not only does this stuff add texture to any dish, but it carries a clean straight-forward onion flavor.
I chose to leave the potato skins on for this recipe. It gives the dish a more rustic look not to mention potato skins are packed with B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, and fiber. I also added ham in the dish which makes for a great Easter leftover meal, but if you are planning on this for a side to your Easter ham, the creamy scalloped potatoes with Onion Crunch fairs just as well sans meat.
A mandolin is the easiest way to get ultra thin cut potatoes. Although I haven’t done my research on the history of mandolins, I’m guessing there were scalloped potatoes long before mandolins were invented. So if you don’t own a mandolin do not fear, just cut the thinnest potatoes you can using the sharpest knife you have. What’s more important than the thinness of the potatoes is that they are all consistently the same size. This will ensure that the potatoes cook evenly.
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 3 cups 2% milk
- 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
- pinch fresh nutmeg
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme, divided
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, grated (not pre-shredded)
- 4 cups Russet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), washed and sliced thin
- 2 cups ham, chopped
- 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
- 3/4 cup Onion Crunch
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a casserole dish and set aside until ready to assemble.
- In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in milk over medium heat until there are no clumps. Turn the heat to low and stir frequently until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.*
- Add salt, nutmeg, 1 tsp. thyme, then whisk in cheddar cheese.
- To assemble, layer half of the potatoes, ham, and cheese sauce. Repeat.
- Mix together shredded Gruyere, Onion Crunch, and remaining 1 tsp. thyme. Sprinkle mixture over casserole.
- Bake casserole covered with aluminum foil for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling and Onion Crunch is browned.
* If cheese is added when mixture is too hot, the milk solids separate resulting in an undesirable grainy texture.