You know how once or twice a year, you find yourself either eating or cooking something you don’t normally eat or cook on an everyday basis? This dish is one of those things. When I was growing up, if we had ham for dinner, it was a special occasion. My mom would make scalloped potatoes from the Betty Crocker mixes you can buy at the store as a side dish, and we’d have some vegetable too, usually green beans. Friday, my dad called to let me know what we needed to bring over to his place today as we were celebrating Christmas with him and his wife and her sister. We’d be having ham and prime rib, he said, along with a vegetable tray, pickled beets, and baked beans. I asked him if he’d like me to bring something potato-y to accompany the meat, as my dad (like many of his generation) is a meat and potato eater at heart. He said, “I’d like some scalloped potatoes.” I agreed to make some, as I had the ingredients at home for them.
So this morning before the gift opening began, I got to work making what was possibly the unhealthiest thing to come out of my kitchen in a long time.
But I’m not going to lie: it was worth every last bite. This recipe is stupidly easy, and if you make it, you will NOT have leftovers. It’s the kind of dish where people will fight for the last bite–it’s that good. The recipe I made was for a large group, so scale down as appropriate for your own needs.
Here’s how I did it. You will need:
- 6-7 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled*
- 1 quart plus 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3-4 whole sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, ground
*I used Yukon Golds because they hold up really well to baking in dishes like this. They are waxy-fleshed and not as starchy as Russets, which you can also use if you like. The consistency of the final dish will be more mushy should you use Russets.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. In a large saucepan, heat the cream, thyme, rosemary and nutmeg over medium to medium-low heat. You just want to warm it, not boil it. Stir periodically to prevent a skin from forming on top of the cream mixture.
While the cream is warming, peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/4″ slices. Use the butter to grease the bottom of a large glass casserole dish, and begin forming an overlapping layer of potato slices on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the layer with salt and pepper. You may want to salt liberally, as potatoes really need salt, but feel free to go light on the salt so your guests can salt the dish as they like.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat, and remove the thyme sprigs. Using a ladle, cover the potato slices with the cream mixture. Repeat the layers of potatoes and cream until you have used all of each. This should give you about 3 layers. Bake uncovered in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly and the potatoes are cooked through. Use a fork to test for doneness. Let the dish cool for about 10 minutes before serving to allow everything to set up.
This recipe filled a 3 quart baking dish. It was entirely gone by afternoon’s end. These potatoes will only make an appearance once a year, even though they are really easy to make! They are super rich, and definitely not something you’d want to eat on a weekly basis lest you drive your cholesterol sky-high.