What made this meal really, really quick was my beloved food processor. You have to uniformly and thinly slice 3 pounds of potatoes. Mark and I attemped to use our mandoline, but apparently this is why cheap mandolines are not so great: ours is dull. Really dull. But Mom came up with the great idea of using my food processor with its slicing blade, and in no time, those three pounds of potatoes were perfectly sliced! I also used my shredding blade to shred the 2 cups of cheese from our leftover blocks from Christmas. Lots of cutting and grating, done in minutes! Thanks again Marky :) Anyway, the one thing that did take me forever was cutting up 3 cups of ham into a dice. Our ham - maybe all hams!? - was gross and fatty and I had to do a lot of slicing and hacking and I got ham grease on my engagement ring, which was horrifying (I had to take it off to save it from any more upsetting meat juice! Poor diamond! Don't worry - I cleaned her up good). Then again, I am very particular when I cut meat, and I can promise you that there was nothing gross in that casserole!
When it came time to put everything together, I was a little worried because I didn't think it sounded like what Gram did. Then again I never watched so I don't know for sure. But, you end up with four different mixtures that need to be layered: ham and onion, sliced potatoes, the two cheeses, and half-and-half and cream (healthy! But so worth it!). I had figured that the cheese and cream mixtures would have been combined, but what do I know? Anyway I got a little overzealous in my layering; I was supposed to end with the liquid mixture, but I was all out; this resulted in the top layer of potatoes staying hard no matter how long I baked it, so be careful to pour the cream mixture over your top!
The end result was delicious, whether or not it's the way Gram does it. By the next day, my family had eaten every bite, and that doesn't always happen, especially with a big casserole like that. It was creamy, cheesy, potato-ey - and those three things just might be my favorites. My whole family had rave reviews - and again, that is a pretty rare occurrence too. This is definitely a meal that will appear again soon... and we currently happen to have another ginormous ham languishing in the fridge. I think my family may have done that on purpose ;)
I hope you are all off to a fabulous start in 2013! One change I am making to the blog, besides only posting new recipes, is to post every recipe right here on the blog. I will always cite my source, but there is no need to make my readers click to other pages to see what the recipe calls for. Enjoy :)
scalloped potatoes and ham
from the Pioneer Woman
3 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes, Washed Thoroughly
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Yellow Onion, Diced
3 cups Diced Ham
1-1/2 cup Half-and-half
1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Flour
Black Pepper To Taste
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
Chopped Parsley (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large casserole dish.
2) Heat butter in a large skillet. Add onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they start to turn translucent. Add ham and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) Combine half-and-half and cream in a microwave-safe container and nuke for a minute or so, until no longer cold. Whisk in flour and black pepper until totally combined. Set aside. (You may add salt, but cheese and ham are salty, so add sparingly.)
4) Combine the two grated cheeses. Set aside.
5) Using a mandoline or food processor with slicer blade, slice potatoes into 1/8-inch slices (very thin.) Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the ham/onion mixture, then 1/3 of the cheese, then pour on 1/3 of the cream mixture.
6) Repeat this twice more, ending with a sprinkling of cheese and a pouring on of the rest of the cream mixture. Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes at least, or until bubbly and hot.
7) Cut into squares and serve. Sprinkle on chopped parsley if you'd like!
(Note: To speed along the process a bit, you may boil sliced potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes before assembling the casserole. Just drain and slightly cool before assembling. I did not do this step though)