We made this tasty side dish to go with our Christmas Eve dinner. Layer after layer of silky potatoes mixed with creamy, cheesy bechemel sauce with just the right touch of spicy cayenne. The best tip, just make sure you give yourself time to cook – we had a full oven that day so the potatoes took a bit longer than normal to cook all the way through. Lucky for us, we had the chance to watch an incredible first half of SMU football in their victorious Hawaii Bowl win to keep us occupied while waiting for the potatoes to cook through, with dinner hitting the table just as half time started.
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin with a sharp knife or mandolin
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups half and half, fat free half and half or whole milk (we used FF half and half)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne papper
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chives, chopped for garnish (optional)
Add the sliced potatoes to a large bowl covered half way with water. Set aside. Toss the panko and parmesan in a small bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, then stir in flour using a wooden spoon. After the flour has cooked for a few minutes whisk in the half and half, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the cayenne, nutmeg and dried herbs. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes then whisk in the Gruyere. Whisk until combined and the cheese has melted into the sauce. Drain off the potatoes and pat dry. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray then add 2 tablespoons of sauce to the bottom of the dish. Layer in potatoes in diagonal rows, slightly overlapping each potato in each row.
Season lightly with salt and pepper and then spoon in a few tablespoons of sauce to cover completely. Repeat with each layer of potatoes until all the potatoes and sauce is used and the dish is full (you may have a few potato slices left over – save those for another use if you do.) If any sauce is remaining spoon over the top, then cover with aluminum foil. Place in a 375 degree pre-heated oven for 50 minutes then remove the foil and top the potatoes with the Panko-Parm mixture. Place back in the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the top is browned, the potatoes are cooked through and bubbly. Remove from the oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes to allow the potatoes to cool a bit allowing the sauce to bind a bit before serving. Top with fresh, snipped chives and serve.