When I was growing up, I thought scalloped potatoes were magic. They taste like cheese but there’s no cheese. There MUST be cheese in them!
There isn’t. At least, it isn’t necessary.
The secret to scalloped potatoes is white sauce. Somehow, flour, milk and fat taste remarkably like cheese. This recipe is just good old fashioned magic because you don’t even assemble the white sauce like usual – the pieces of the puzzle find each other!
Today I used roasted garlic as the fat in the scalloped potatoes, but you don’t have to. You could just drizzle in 1 Tbsp melted butter or slice in some farmer’s sausage or bacon or…crumble in some fabulous blue cheese! Over time I learned that it doesn’t matter what fat you use, the potatoes will work with it and turn out lovely.
Another thing I learned is to make scalloped potatoes, you must use potatoes. No sweet potatoes. No yams. Sorry. Over the years, in an effort to sneakily make this comfort food even more nutritious, I have sliced sweet potatoes and yams in along with the potatoes, but the chemistry doesn’t work. Yes, the potatoes will be tender, but there will be no white sauce. The sweet potatoes and yams soak up the milk and the remaining liquid looks like whey – it isn’t appetizing – not worth turning someone off scalloped potatoes this way. Just ask Sweet Baboo. 🙂
The ingredient list is simple.
- 2 Tbsp Skim milk powder
- 2 Tbsp white flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 clove elephant garlic (or about 7 cloves regular garlic), peeled and diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (this is the fat – you can use one of the other options listed above)
- 1 potato
- 1 onion
- black pepper or the spice of your choice
First, to incorporate the fat from the olive oil in the garlic and make it all soft and buttery, it’ll have to be roasted. Take off the papery skin and slice the clove in half to allow you to remove the sprout.
Dice the garlic and put it in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up. Then drizzle on the olive oil.
Wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic.
Put the garlic in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about half an hour. When you take it out, if it doesn’t look caramelized, just put it back in for a little longer.
This, along with the onion and potato and black pepper, is the final building block.
Dice the onion and julienne the potato and we’re ready to start building the magical tower that is scalloped potatoes.
Since I’m making scalloped potatoes for just two people, I only need a small loaf pan.
I sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray. Argh! I don’t know why I did that! Please be smarter than I was and just butter and flour your pan instead – at least then the potatoes won’t stick to the pan like mine did.
Just like when you build a lasagne, you want a little spice and vegetable on the bottom so that the main part of the casserole doesn’t burn to the bottom. I layered in freshly cracked black pepper and some of the diced onion.
Now the building begins! Here’s what you do:
- put in a thin layer of julienned potato
- sprinkle in some garlic
- sprinkle in some black pepper
- toss in some diced onion
Keep going with this pattern until the potatoes are all gone. It looks like this:
I always put a little extra pepper on the top.
At this point, only the sauce is left and then you’re done! Yay!
I use skim milk powder, but if you have milk on hand, just use the same amount as I have listed for water. The reason I use skim milk powder is that it mixes really well with the flour and gives the white sauce a head start (at least in my mind it does).
In a large measuring cup, add the flour and the skim milk powder. Stir well to combine. Add the water and stir again.
Pour this mixture slowly over the potatoes. You won’t see it – it’s a behind-the-scenes kind of sauce. Now it’s time to wrap the pan in foil because it WILL boil over. It just does. If you are using a bigger pan, put a prepared baking sheet under it.
Scalloped potatoes require time. They need 1.5 hours in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. If you are patient, you will be rewarded with golden, thick, rich goodness.
This recipe makes two servings of luscious scalloped potatoes – we heartily enjoyed them!
Each serving has this nutrition:
- Calories: 206
- Fat: 7.3g
- Carbs: 29.7g
- Protein: 4.4g
As a final note, you can certainly enlarge the recipe to feed more people. Increase the dish size, add more potatoes and onion. You don’t need to increase the fat (unless you want to) and the milk component will not need to be any more than 1.5 cups – even for a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. NEVER increase the flour. 2 Tbsp white flour is enough for any size. I TOLD you it was magic!