Homemade Scalloped Potatoes: Ditch That Boxed Mix
Okay, so that box of scalloped potatoes is easy, fairly cheap, and people like the result. Of course they do. The boxed mix produces potatoes that have been engineered to appeal to our tastes, with far too much salt and an assortment of other additives that don't have much to do with real food--in short, far from a healthy choice. So, put down that box and pick up a bag of real potatoes. They are good and good for you, despite the anti-carb craze that's been sweeping the country for the past few years. Yes, potatoes are starchy, and, yes, you probably should avoid eating more than one serving. Nonetheless, potatoes are naturally low in fat and sodium and a good source of vitamins C, B6, Potassium, and Manganese. Yes, of course scalloped potatoes include more than just potatoes. Nonetheless, if you're careful and make your own scalloped potatoes rather than a boxed mix, you can create a dish that's reasonably nutritious as well as economical. The version below is quick to put together and can bake while you read, get a shower, answer the mail, or finish making the rest of your dinner. The recipe uses low-fat milk rather than heavy cream, lightening the fat and calorie load. The taste? The potatoes come out with a light cheese sauce that complements rather than hides the potatoes. Plus, a little added cheese on the top bakes up golden and crusty--just what you'd expect for homemade scalloped potatoes. You'll see that I use red potatoes in this version. (They were on sale at Aldi for 5 pounds for $1.29, and I like them!) You can, of course, use other varieties of potatoes, but you'll need to adjust the cooking time--just begin checking the potatoes early.
Homemade Scalloped Potatoes -- Serves 6+
8-10 medium red potatoes, scrubbed well and sliced about 1/3-1/4-inch thin
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of chicken Better Than Bullion
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, divided
3 tablespoons of bacon crumbles
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a large microwave-safe baking pan or casserole dish (3+ quarts) with non-stick cooking spray. Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan--about 1/3 of the slices--and sprinkle on 1/3 of the chopped onion. Repeat the layering of potatoes and onions, twice more, using up all the potatoes and onions. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap, leaving a small corner uncovered to provide a vent. Microwave the potatoes for about 8 minutes or until they are crisp tender. While the potatoes are in the microwave, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the flour, water, Better Than Bullion, salt, pepper, and dried parsley flakes and whisk until the flour is blended in and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook the flour mixture, whisking gently, until it begins to thicken. Whisk in the milk, then 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and the bacon crumbles until all the ingredients are incorporated and the cheese melts into the sauce. Pour the cheese sauce over the microwaved potatoes, lifting the potatoes a bit with a spoon or spatula to let some of the cheese sauce reach the bottom of the dish and coat all the potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the potatoes and sauce and put the baking dish in the hot oven. The potatoes will need 45-60 minutes to bake, but begin checking them early to ensure that they don't get too brown. Let the potatoes cool for 10-15 minutes before serving them so that they can firm up.