For most of us, it’s almost unthinkable to have a holiday ham without scalloped potatoes. There are just some pairings that are made in heaven.
While scalloped potatoes have never been considered light fare, this recipe is “lightened up” with the use of milk instead of heavy cream. It’s also paired down the prep time so you can spend more time with family and friends.
With a flavor boost of Gruyère cheese, which brings a rich, slightly nutty flavor to the scalloped potatoes, this will be a perennial favorite. For a more traditional potato, see the variation note at the foot of the recipe.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (or baking potatoes), thinly sliced and peeled if desired
1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
3 cups milk (I use 2%)
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking until tender, about 2 minutes more. Sprinkle in flour and saute for an additional 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 1 teaspoon of the thyme leaves. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce begins to simmer and thicken. Remove from the heat.
Mix together the salt and pepper. If peeling, peel the potatoes and thinly slice into rounds. Spread one-third of the potatoes in an even layer in the prepared baking dish and season with one-third of the salt and pepper mixture. Top with one-third of the Gruyère and cheddar cheese. Repeat until you have 3 layers. Finish with the remaining potatoes and cheese, season with remaining salt and pepper.
Pour the milk mixture evenly over the potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil; continue baking until the potatoes are tender, coated with a creamy sauce and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then serve hot. Garnish with remaining 1 teaspoon thyme leaves.
Variation: For a classic version of scalloped potatoes, omit the leeks and substitute with 1/4 cup minced onions. Substitute Gruyère cheese for 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese.