Don’t be fooled. People make out that it’s only on special occasions when luscious, creamy scalloped potatoes turn up at the table. It’s a fib. This is extremely easy and quick to make.
With layers of cream, onions, and potatoes all baked until lovely, rich and bubbly, people think this is a complex and indulgent dish. It is and it isn’t, but it’s possible to cook the prepared layers in the microwave in just 10 minutes!
I agree there are few other dishes which pair comfort and luxuriant elegance quite so perfectly.
Is there a difference between Scalloped Potatoes and Potato Gratin? Both are constructed with thinly sliced potatoes and then cooked in full cream milk or cream, but the difference is cheese.
Scalloped potatoes only really need to be made with milk or cream and potatoes, while gratins add cheese, either between the layers or just over the top. But if you want to add cheese, it’s fine, just that bit richer.
To give the dish a bit more acidity, I like to add some thinly sliced good-old brown onions, though red or white is good too. The layers should be: potato at the bottom, then onions, then more potatoes, and more onions etc. until the last layer which should be potato again.
The key is to choose a starchy potato – and don’t bother to peel it.
It’s the starch that will help the dairy you choose, whether milk or cream, to thicken to a velvety smooth sauce while cooking. Russets have the most starch and you will find the sauce will be creamier than when you use a more watery spud. Russets, by the way, are the large ones, with dark brown skin and few eyes. The flesh is white, dry, and mealy, and it is suitable for baking, mashing, and chipping.
Work on the basis of one good-sized potato per person. Slice the potatoes so they are between 1/8” and ¼” thick. Using a mandoline makes this very easy and quick. What’s important is to make sure the slices are all about the same thickness so they all cook at the same speed.
If you were cooking this dish the long-winded way you may simmer the sliced potatoes in the milk or cream for a few minutes before arranging the layers. If you do it this way then remember you don’t want to thoroughly cook the potatoes at this stage. Once the milk and/or cream starts to simmer, it’s time to move on.
Place the layers in the baking dish you have to hand and pour over the seasoned cream and or milk sauce so that it seeps through all the layers. Cover this dish in cling film and put it all in the microwave. Cook on full power for ten to 12 minutes.
If you would like a slightly caramelised top then remove the cling film when you take the dish out of the microwave and finish it under a hot grill for a few minutes more.
Serving your scalloped potatoes, don’t worry if the dish is still loose and liquid, as long as the mixture is tender and bubbling everything will be delicious.
A slotted spoon or even a fish spatula will help you lift the layers and serve the potatoes in whatever shape or non-shape you like. Make sure you scoop out all that creamy sauce. Don’t leave it in the pan. Drizzle it over the top.
Bish, bosh. Delicious!