I found a recipe online for scalloped potatoes, several months ago. The potatoes were okay, but I wanted more. More flavor, more bacon, more of that “Wow” factor that I remember from my childhood. I’ve worked over this recipe over 8 or so different makings (needless to say we’ve had a lot of potatoes lately) but each time it got closer and better. And then I perfected it. This is so very delicious I can’t even express it fully. It’s not hard but it does take some time, especially if you are making the clarified butter (recipe below).
1 Tbsp butter
2 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8” thick
1 small yellow or white onion
2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
6 slices bacon, thinly sliced and cooked
2-1/2 c grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese (about 8 oz)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese (about 2 oz)
Salt and pepper, TT
4 c whole milk
1 pearl onion (or small onion)
1 small bay leaf
1 whole clove
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp clarified butter (Does not HAVE to be clarified, but it is not “pure” to the classic Bechamel; recipe below)
1/4 c Gruyère cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan
1 egg yolk
Salt and Pepper, TT
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the milk on the stove, over a medium-low heat, and bring to a simmer. Into the heating milk place a clove tacking a bay leaf into the small onion. Whisk occasionally to prevent a skin forming on the surface. Prepare the bacon, potatoes, onion, chives, and cheese while the milk is heating. When the milk simmering, heat in a second pan
the clarified butter and flour and whisk together, creating a white roux. Just before the roux turns a golden color and it does have a nice toasty smell, take the roux off the heat. Remove the onion, bay leaf, and clove which may have separated, and slowly whisk the simmering milk into the roux, a little at a time. Stir in the cheeses, egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste and keep the pan on a low heat while assembling the potatoes.
2. Butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish with 1 Tbsp melted butter. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with 1/3 of the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer on half of the sliced onions, 1/2 cup of the Gruyère cheese, half the bacon, chives, and a little parmesan. Spread on just enough of the Béchamel sauce to scarcely cover the toppings.
Repeat with the second layer.
3. Top the casserole with the remaining potato slices and the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheeses and cover the dish with tin foil, being careful not to touch the foil to the surface of the potatoes. Cook for one hour and then remove the tin foil. Continue cooking anywhere from 15-25 more minutes, testing the potatoes for doneness. The potatoes should be tender but not mushy.
1 lb butter or more depending on how much you want to or need to make
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Be sure to check it from time to time to make sure that it doesn’t burn. As the butter melts, it separates into three layers. The layer on the bottom is water, the middle layer is the clarified butter, and the thin top layer is the foamy milk fat. Skim off any of the foam that comes to the surface. Then ladle out the butter into a separate container that can also be used to store it, being careful not pick up any of the water below.
The wonderful thing about this butter is that it does not burn! You can leave it on the stove for quite a while and it won’t burn, letting you dice up veggies and so forth while the pan is preheating.