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Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole has layers of tender, sliced potatoes and ham smothered in a creamy cheese sauce.My husband Jack first served a version of this Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole recipe many years ago at one of the food establishments he managed – and it has been one of his favorite dishes ever since. Over the years, he’s adapted the recipe to the version we’re sharing with you today!
What’s the difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes? And why are we calling this a casserole?Originally, this dish was made as a traditional ‘scalloped’ potatoes recipe – with sliced potatoes in just a white Béchamel sauce – with no cheese added. But over the years, Jack tried adding different blends of cheeses and seasonings – and we love the addition of cheddar and mozzarella cheese along with the ham and potatoes! So – some people might call this an ‘au gratin’ because of the added cheese – although technically, in culinary arts, the term au gratin refers to a dish that has a topping of seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese, which is then baked or broiled until golden brown. (Our recipe doesn’t add breadcrumbs to the top.) Phew! Still with us? (Scalloped = White sauce. Au Gratin = Cheese and bread crumbs and a golden-brown top. Our Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole = White sauce with cheese and no bread crumbs.) Perfect Asparagus recipe!) for a complete meal. Or – it can also be served as a side dish, without the ham, alongside your choice of roasted meat. We made our casserole with thinly sliced Black Forest ham from our local deli. But you could adapt this recipe and use leftover ham from the holidays instead.
Can I make this Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole ahead of time?Yes you can! You’ll want to fully-bake the casserole, then allow it to completely cool to room temperature. Wrap it tightly with foil, then refrigerate it until ready to reheat. On the day you plan to serve your Scalloped Ham and Potato Casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then place the casserole dish (still covered in foil) to heat through – approximately 30 minutes or so.
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2 pounds peeled Russet potatoes*
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Few drops hot sauce such as Tabasco, Cholula or Sriracha
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Few grinds fresh nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 pound Black Forest or Virginia ham, sliced thin
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (not fresh mozzarella)
- Using a mandolin or sharp knife, peel and slice the potatoes to 1/8 inch thick. Hold in a bowl of cold water but pat dry when ready to use.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter and add onions, parsley and thyme. Sauté for about three minutes or until onions are starting to become translucent. Lower heat to medium, add flour and stir. Cook for about three more minutes or until raw flour smell is gone.
- Add cream, salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, mustard powder and 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheddar cheese. Stir over medium heat until cheese melts into sauce then remove from heat.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a two to three quart pan or casserole dish spray with pan spray. (Our casserole dish was an oval 12x9x3-inches.)
- Start by ladling a small amount of sauce into the bottom of the pan. Shingle one quarter of the potatoes over the sauce, covering the bottom. Cover that with one third of the ham. Next cover with one third of the remaining sauce and another quarter of potatoes and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers by next adding another third of ham, another third of the sauce, another quarter of the potato, the final third of ham, the final half of the mozzarella, the final quarter of potatoes and the last of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheddar.**
- Bake uncovered for one hour and 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork or skewer. Let the casserole sit for 30 minutes to set up.
- Spoon into portions and serve.***
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*Russet are low moisture, high starch potatoes and should not be substituted.
**We found it easier to divide the ingredients into piles before layering so we could get even amounts. For example, we divided the ham into three piles, the potatoes into four and so on.
***There will be some liquid after baking and resting. This gets absorbed into the casserole as it cools so no need to remove.