Whether you call them cheesy scallop potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potato au gratin or au gratin potatoes, they are just flat out fantastic. Healthy? Not really. But this recipe is at least healthier, with less fat and calories than the traditional French Potato Dauphinoise. It’s more for that occasional splurge or special dinner.
Growing up I loved scalloped potatoes. Mom made them the accepted 1960’s way, from a box. Dehydrated potato “chips” layered into a casserole dish, then covered with a mixture of milk and a powdered mystery packet. Even though I knew no better back then, it still seemed strange. Today I shudder.
The Real Deal
Decades later, a dear friend and fellow chef introduced me to the real deal – Potatoes Dauphinoise. A classic French dish of thinly sliced potatoes layered with cheese and cream. I still remember the first time I had it. It was heavenly. And being a potato lover I was hooked, until I figured how much fat and calories were in every bite.
After that I rarely made this classic dish, until I began to experiment. Using whole milk versus cream or even half and half helps to reduce the fat content.
Here is how I make this great classic today. Less fat for sure, but still delicious. Like I said, not healthy, but healthier, so that you can enjoy it once in awhile.
Tools – Using a Mandolin or Hand-Held Slicer
This casserole depends on slicing potatoes uniformly thin to 1/8″ (3-4 cm). The only way to do that is with a mandolin or a hand-slicer. Mandolins are terrific kitchen tools for slicing. Potatoes, apples, pears, beets, carrots and other fruits and vegetable can be sliced uniformly thin. They come in all price ranges from $40 – $400.
For potatoes, I use the Yukon Gold variety. They have moist flesh and wonderful flavor that work perfectly in this dish. Choose smooth, firm potatoes with no cuts, bruised spots or green areas.
Simmer the slices in milk with thyme until tender (just a few minutes), then layer into a casserole with grated gruyere cheese and bake. Heaven awaits.
A classic casserole dish, this recipe for scallop (or scalloped) potatoes is healthier than the classic Potatoes Dauphinoise, but probably still a splurge for special occasions. Go for aged gruyere cheese. It has a rich, almost nutty flavor. Although you might want to eat the entire dish, a small piece will satisfy.
- 2 1/4 (1 kilo) large Yukon gold potatoes
- 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- several pinches of freshly ground or grated nutmeg
- 4 ounces (113 grams) aged gruyere cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (177 C).
- Peel the potatoes and slice on a mandolin or hand-held slicer adjusted to 1/8″ (3-4 cm) thickness. Place the potatoes and milk in a 4 quart deep sauté pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and turn heat to low. Watch carefully and don’t let the milk boil over. It’s messy to clean up and happens in the blink of an eye. Simmer over low for about 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife. Remove potatoes from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
- Layer half of the potatoes in an 8×8 (20 x 20 cm) square glass or stoneware casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with the nutmeg. Add 2/3 of the grated cheese. Layer on the rest of the potatoes and top with remaining 1/3 of the cheese (and Parmesan if using).
- Bake uncovered for approximately 50-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Slice and serve.
- A sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese is nice for the top before baking for extra crunch and flavor, but it’s optional. It’s delicious either way.
- Any leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3 days. Re-heat covered with foil at 350 degrees (177C) for 15-20 minutes or so until hot.
- To save time, you can also make this dish a day ahead, then heat for your dinner.
For more information on Yukon Gold potatoes you can read here
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