It is ballet season again! That means that Hubby and I will be teaching classes and rehearsing in the evenings, which in turn means that it’s time to use that delayed cooking function on the oven. Today was our first day back on a normal fall schedule of any kind, and I thought that it would be ideal if I could manage to put together a casserole for dinner. I went to Epicurious and did a search for casserole. I came across several potato casserole ideas, and since we have potatoes, I was interested. I ultimately based this recipe on Rick Rodgers’ Mashed Potato Casserole with Gouda and Bacon, except I didn’t have any Gouda or bacon (no, I still haven’t made it to the grocery store. Don’t pressure me!). Here’s what I did to improvise:
- 4 ounces black forest ham, diced & frozen (this was deli meat that I cut up and froze when it seemed like we wouldn’t get through all of it before spoilage set in).
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 large purple scallions (purple, white, and pale green parts only), finely chopped
- 3 pounds potatoes (I used a mixture of potatoes we’ve gotten from CSA shares over the last few weeks)
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) total coarsely grated monterey jack and sliced brie-like blue cheese
- Preheat oven to 375° and butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
- Cook ham in heavy large skillet with 1 tablespoon butter (it’s not bacon, after all) until golden brown and crisp. Add onions just to soften. Place in medium bowl.
- Place potatoes in large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and boil with lid slightly ajar until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well and dry the pot.
- Slice boiled potatoes in half. With a potato ricer over the (now dry) pot, process the potatoes (just put them cut side down in the ricer and then remove the skin for each potato half).
- Add butter and stir to combine.
- Add milk and sour cream and combine again.
- Stir in about half of the cheese mixture and all of bacon mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the potato mixture in prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese mixture, then add the rest of the potato mixture. Top with the last of the cheese mixture.
- Bake casserole in preheated oven until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling, about 30 minutes.
- Allow casserole to rest for 5 minutes to allow it to solidify a bit. Or be too hungry to wait and eat it even though it has a thick sauce-like consistency. Either way – just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- This recipe can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill potato mixture in casserole dish. Increase baking time to 40 minutes.
- Those of you that actually click over to read the original recipe I used may be wondering why I didn’t follow their order of ingredients. America’s Test Kitchen did teach me that if you don’t follow a recipe exactly, you cannot complain about the results. Or, at least, you cannot blame the recipe for the results. However, they also taught me this about mashed potatoes:
“When the butter goes in before the dairy, the result is a silkier, creamier, smoother texture than when the dairy goes in first; by comparison, the dairy-first potatoes were pasty and thick.” ~page 187 The New Best Recipe Copyright 2004 by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
- Since they’re the folks that taught me how to actually complete a recipe correctly, I listen when they tell me things.
Cheesy ham, potatoes, three kinds of fat. Is this looking like the sort of thing we wouldn’t like? Since I was home 30 minutes late and Hubby had kept dinner warm for me, we did not wait for the potatoes to un-liquify. Hubby wondered what we could make it for as a sauce. That was after he ate his first serving, which was after he looked at it as if it may be some sort of crazy experiment. I think that was only because it was pink.
You will not see photos of this recipe. I had the camera there, and it was charged. I took that one photo (yeah, that one up at the top of the page). Then I cut into the potatoes and I remembered (with the evidence directly in front of me) that Red Bliss potatoes are actually red potatoes. They’re not red skinned potatoes with white insides. They’ve got pink through and through. Which doesn’t bother me at all, but I thought it might freak some of you out. You know, because when I put the taters through the ricer, they kinda resembled ground beef. Or the fact that when I was spreading the potato mixture in the casserole dish, they kinda looked like that weird Jell-O meets whipped topping dessert thing that was really popular in the fifties and still makes a comeback at multi-generational potlucks. Or the fact that it oozed when I served it.
None of that was actually weird, for us. One of the reasons we joined a CSA in the first place is to try heirloom varieties of our normal veggies (along with veggies we would never buy for ourselves). In fact, as I was making the casserole, I started thinking that it might be a bit weird that none of us expect red potatoes to be red. I mean, wouldn’t that make sense? Of course, you’re talking to the lady who won’t eat red or blue corn chips because corn chips don’t taste red or blue. And I’m iffy on the white ones, too. Corn chips definitely taste yellow. Definitely.*
*I know they don’t. I know I’m crazy here. I know these facts because I actually did a blind taste test, and I couldn’t tell the difference if I couldn’t see the chips. I still won’t buy anything but yellow. Sometimes, I can be stubborn.