Old fashioned Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
I’ve searched the internet for hours it seems looking for the kind of scalloped potatoes that danced in my head. Old fashioned, no cheese, creamy, crispy, elegant.
I kept finding cheesy potatoes.
If a recipe doesn’t say gratin, it shouldn’t have cheese. Everyone thinks cheese should be in everything. Not me, not in this subdued creamy bechemel sauce. You can, of course, add cheese to this recipe to make it, but then it would be called potatoes au gratin.
I love nuanced cooking, meaning this: the simpler, the more balanced, the more delicate the bite, the more excited I am. Any bad cook can stick cheese in everything and call it a casserole, but when you have the opportunity to just eat creamy potatoes with a crunchy top, take it.
True, old fashioned scalloped potatoes recipe should be about two things. Potatoes and opposite textures. Creamy on the inside from the milk and crispy on the outside (also from the milk).
Believe it or not, there are some simply awful scalloped potatoes recipe on the internet. Some call for cans of soup and breadcrumbs. Don’t do either of these.
Most don’t cook the potatoes before baking. My mother does that, and her scalloped potatoes are never done and yet still runny. Some just sprinkle the flour between each layer. Why take that chance?
I went with my gut and created a recipe on the spot for Christmas Eve. I took the chance my culinary skills would get me where I wanted to go.
I actually baked these in this 9 x 13 baking pan and these pictures are the reheated version. You can half the recipe and bake in an 8 x 8 pan.
They were actually much creamier, when originally baked, although the reheated version was pretty splendid.
Come along with me and make the most delicate and sumptuous old fashioned scalloped potatoes recipe.
Slice thinly, using a mandoline. I used this inexpensive one from Oxo.
Gently simmer the potatoes in milk and water, because we do not want any crunch in our scalloped potatoes.
Make a bechemel. This is super easy and guarantees the creamiest, most comforting, soul touching dish.
I added a touch of heavy cream to the milk, but you will be fine just using whole milk. Add white pepper, but ever so gently. A little of that goes a long way to burning a throat. Add in some mustard powder to the flour or mustard to the roux (which is what I did) for a little lift and to prevent the dish from being bland.
Add nutmeg. I’m Italian, and we add nutmeg to everything, but only freshly ground, or skip it.
You can bake this old fashioned scalloped potatoes recipe slowly in a low oven.
I had a prime rib in the oven baking at 300 degrees F. I put the scalloped potatoes in the bottom rack under the roast and let them bake slowly. Eventually, even at this temperature, they browned just as you see them.
If I didn’t have the prime rib in the oven, I would have baked them at 350 degrees until they browned on top, about 60 minutes. (The potatoes are already partially cooked), which reduces baking time.
This is enough for 9 servings, as it is baked in this 9 x 13 pan which comes with a lid for easy refrigeration.
We had prime rib, roasted brussels sprouts with dried cherries and almonds, salad and this red velvet cake. If the only thing we had were these scalloped potatoes, I would have still been happy. It was my favorite bite of the night, and my favorite leftover.
More Potatoes Recipes from Spinach Tiger
Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
- 4 pounds potatoes peeled
- 2 onions sliced thinly
- 6 tablespoons butter plus butter for onion
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme optional
- 5 1/2 cups milk divided 4 and 1
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- chopped parsley or thyme for garnish
- Using a mandoline, slice potatoes thinly. Don't worry about making layers of each potato. If they are thin, you will put layer potatoes some on top of the other for about three layers between bechemel sauce.
- Place potatoes in 1 cup milk and enough water to cover potatoes by one inch and gently boil until potatoes are almost done. Drain. Save some of the starchy water.
- Slice onions very thinly. Melt butter in frying. Soften onions (do not allow to turn color) in butter. Set aside.
- Make Bechemel Sauce
- Season flour with nutmeg, salt, pepper, thyme,
- Melt butter in heavy bottomed pan. When it's almost melted, add flour and stir until incorporated. Add 1/4 cups starchy water and four cups milk to flour mixture to make roux.
- Bring roux to boil, continue stirring until roux is thick and creamy. Take off stove.
- Layer potatoes, salt, pepper, onion, bechemel sauce, making sure to save some bechemel for top.
- Bake at 325 degrees for approximately one hour. I baked at 300 degrees F for 90 minutes. Potatoes browned perfectly. I did this because I had a prime rib in oven at 300 and couldn't turn oven up.
- Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving. Potatoes will be very hot.
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