Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Prefer My Scalloped Potatoes Blood-Free, Thanks!

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My mandoline has been taken away from me. Honestly I can't get too sad about it because I tore a chunk out of my finger with it the other night making these delicious scalloped potatoes...this was the second time I cut myself on the dumb thing.

For those of you who aren't familiar with a mandloline, they really can be fantastic. They are perfect for this type of dish, where you want a vegetable (or in this case a potato) sliced in uniform, thin slices. However, they are very sharp and if you're not careful, you can end up adding a little of your own DNA to your potato dish.

The first time I cut myself on the mandoline, it was when I was trying to assemble it. I just knicked my thumb straight across and didn't even notice because the blade was so sharp! I realized I had cut myself when I started noticing red splotches on the white plastic of the mandoline. That was the first time my husband suggested maybe I wasn't the best person to be handling this particular piece of kitchenware.

This time I was doing quite well, running my potatoes over the blade - it was turning out beautiful 1/8" thick slices of potato...then my hand slipped on a wet potato and I scraped my knuckle over the blade instead of the potato. OWCH! Picture a small divot being scooped right out of top of the knuckle on the middle finger of my right hand. It bled like crazy...took forever to stop and I had to wash the mandoline twice to sanitize it and make sure all the blood came off!

All of that to say, if you're using a mandoline for this recipe, please be careful! If you don't have a mandoline to use, just use a sharp knife and try to slice the potatoes as uniformly as possible. My husband has since told me not to use the mandoline unless I'm under supervision...even so, I think I'll put it back in it's box for now!

Now onto the actual recipe - this is a recipe I adapted from one I found in the March/April issue of Food Network Magazine. It is a low-fat recipe and you really don't give up any of the flavor! If you can afford to buy Gruyere cheese, by all means go for it - our household is on more of a Swiss cheese income level, so I used was absolutely delicious. Next time I might try a mix of a few difference cheeses.

Low-Fat Scalloped Potatoes

- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 lbs. potatoes (any type you like - Yukon Gold would be perfect in this dish)
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 1 cup low-fat milk (I used skim)
- 1 cup nonfat half-and-half
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Swiss)
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground, I'm out of fresh!)
- Approx. 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of well-salted (think briny!) water to a boil while you slice your potatoes. Feel free to skip the step of skinning your knuckle on the mandoline and having to re-wash it and check the potatoes for blood and skin!

2. Once the water is boiling, add in the potatoes. A great tip is to keep the sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown. I completely forgot to do this, as I was busy with blood-management and bandaids! Cook the potatoes for about 8 minutes until they are just beginning to get tender.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, make the cream sauce. Melt the 2 tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly and begins to bubble (should only take a minute or so). Gradually whisk in both milks and simmer, whisking constantly for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

4. Take the cream sauce mixture off the heat and whisk in 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper and 1 1/2 tsp. of salt. I know this seems like a lot of salt, but you need to be generous with your salt in order to really bring out the flavor of the potatoes. Add in the nutmeg and stir well to combine. The potatoes should be done, so drain them and return them to the pot.

5. Pour the cream sauce over the potatoes, tossing gently to combine before transferring the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Shred your cheese and sprinkle it generously over the potatoes.

6. Pop the potatoes in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Then take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle the top with the Panko, plus a generous grind of both salt and pepper over the top of the dish. Increase the oven temperature to broil and bake for about 5-8 more minutes, until the top is browned. Let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving.

These potatoes were a perfect side dish with roast chicken and a green salad - if you try them, let me know how you like the dish, I'd love the feedback!

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