Friday, January 4, 2013

recipe: scalloped potatoes

Before we get started, let me just say, if your New Year's resolution was "eat healthy" ... you should skip this recipe. Ain't nothing healthy about it.

So last fall, I made a tasty tasty macaroni and cheese that used a bechamel white sauce. I made the recipe once with cow's milk, and once with soy milk, and there was no discernible difference. Which was an exciting discovery for me because the soy-based bechamel can be a good way to make creamy recipes without any dairy. So for the past several months, I've been trying/inventing recipes with bechamel sauce, but none have turned out well enough to post on the blog.

Until today, my friends.

I was talking to my mom about bechamel one day, and she said she makes it for her scalloped potatoes.

So I turned to whom I presume is the authority on the matter of scalloped potatoes and bechamel: Julia Child. Except her recipes for scalloped potatoes (which she calls gratin dauphinois, how fancy) doesn't use bechamel. She says to just use boiling milk.

But I really wanted to use bechamel, so I made some adaptations to Julia's recipe. (Is that blasphemy -- tweaking a Julia Child recipe?)

The result? OMG, delicious. Mmmm, crispy brown edges.

Scalloped Potatoes
Inspired by Mastering the Art of French Cooking

For bechamel sauce
  • 1 cup milk (or soy milk)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
For filling
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
Peel potatoes, and use a mandoline to slice into super thin 1/8-inch slices. Store in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

For the bechamel sauce, begin heating milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, continue stirring, and cook for 2 minutes while mixture froths. This is called the roux. Remove the roux from the heat.

Turn the heat up on the milk, so it begins to boil around the edges.

Add hot milk to the roux, and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth.

Put saucepan over the heat again, continuing to stir with the whip, and boil for 1 minute. Remove the bechamel from the heat.

Grease a 9-by-9 casserole dish with 2-inch sides.

Drain the potatoes, and pat dry on a dish towel.

Layer half of the potatoes in the casserole dish. Spread half of the bechamel. Dot with half of the butter. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, bechamel, butter, salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 degrees on top rack, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Then broil for 2 minutes, turning the dish 90 degrees after 1 minute.

Julia says it serves 6, but it's more like 4 or 5.

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