Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Easter Ham - the gift that keeps on giving

Easter Ham is the gift that keeps on giving. It's a delicious gift, but how many ham sandwiches, omelets, and egg bakes can you make? Enter Scalloped Potatoes with Ham. I remember this as a kid - get the prepackaged box of scalloped potatoes out, make them, and add ham. Sure that's great and all... but I guess I wanted to do a little better. I found a recipe that was not hard, had real ingredients, and tasted awesome.
One of the tricks to scalloped potatoes is slicing your potatoes thin and evenly. Well.. sure... that's easy if you have a mandolin - which I do. It's also quite possibly the scariest kitchen gadget I own - other than that piping tip I got my finger stuck in. (Why do I have dangerous issues with potatoes and fingers?) Thankfully I survived another session with the mandolin without losing chunks of hand or finger. I made this on Sunday for a Tuesday dinner. The cheese sauce was not difficult to make, slicing potatoes, cutting up ham. Layer it all in a pan a couple times and cover with foil. Yes, the baking time is long - but it's worth it. Worth every good smell, every bubbly goodness, every steamy potato that comes out of that pan. Hey... let's have ham again so we can make this again - let's shortcut it and just buy ham to make this recipe again. Next time sliced onions will go in... Oh, my. Yes. I wonder if you could freeze this bad boy... wait... frozen potato slices rarely are a good thing once thawed and cooked... but I could try a little one... Aren't you glad to get a little piece of my random thought process? So long rambling cut short... Make this. It's worth it. Your family will love it. If you are gluten and/or dairy free? Sorry... maybe there are substitutions? Maybe not? Endure the pain? or not. Ok I’m done now.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (I used 2%)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and very thinly sliced
1 pound diced ham (about 4 cups)
fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF and coat a 3 quart baking dish in nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant and onions are tender. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and cook until sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Remove sauce from heat.
Place half the sliced potatoes in bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with half the ham, then pour on half the sauce. Repeat layers and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and top is golden and bubbly. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

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