LAKE MACBRIDE— As Thanksgiving leftovers linger in the refrigerator, diminishing bit by bit each day, we need to make something different, a new dish. With the abundance of potatoes at the end of the growing season, making a scalloped potato dish fits the bill instead of the usual mashed, boiled or fried. Serve it with a green vegetable and a protein, and it would make a comforting meal on a day that didn’t get above 15 degrees.
My first thought was to find a home neighborhood recipe in one of the cookbooks I collected from the church and hospital near where I grew up. No luck there. Apparently the church ladies didn’t cook gratin much. (There were no credits to men in the book). So off to the Internet and a review of the standard fare of websites returned after a search for “scalloped potatoes.” While there are many variations of potato dishes, I sought the simplest, with the fewest ingredients, and least prep time. Modified from the recipe to use items on hand, here is the dish.
Ingredients: 1-1/2 cups milk (or heavy cream), 3 bay leaves, half teaspoon dried thyme, 2 garlic cloves run through a garlic press, half teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, salt to taste, 2 pounds of potatoes peeled and cut into eighth inch slices, half cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a saucepan, heat the milk or cream with the bay leaves, garlic, thyme, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Butter a casserole that will hold the potatoes. Pour the heated milk through a strainer into a large bowl with the slices potatoes. Sprinkle half the Parmesan cheese on top and mix gently to coat the sliced potatoes with milk and cheese.
Spoon part of the milk mixture into the bottom of the casserole and layer the potatoes so they are evenly positioned. Pour the rest of the liquid over the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top as a crust.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for five to ten minutes and serve.
Note: If chives were in season, I’d finely slice them and sprinkle them between layers of potato.