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Volume III
November 16, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Delectable Scalloped Potatoes!

By Alice Osborne

Don't you love potatoes? Talk about a versatile food. I have written about this topic before, but with fall here and winter fast approaching, it doesn't hurt to talk about this cold-weather staple once more.

This time, let's talk scalloped potatoes. Spuds baked in a creamy sauce with a topping of crumbs are a perfect side dish. They can be scalloped in various kinds of sauces or broths, but most often it's a milk, cream, or white sauce that is used.

Essentially, scalloping is the baked version of creamed vegetables. Instead of mixing cream or white sauce with sliced veggies and heating the mix in a saucepan, the vegetables are layered in a casserole, covered with sauce, topped with bread or cracker crumbs, and heated through in the oven.

The best potatoes for scalloping are those that retain their shape and texture when they're sliced, chopped, or shredded, and baked. Choose an all-purpose potato rather than the common starchy bakers, which will fall apart during cooking. All purpose potatoes combine the characteristics of dry and waxy potatoes. As a general guideline, all-purpose varieties have tan or yellow skins, are good for baking, roasting, and frying, and hold their shaped when boiled in water. Yukon Gold is a good all-purpose potato, and Norland Red is a good waxy potato - both make great scalloped potatoes.

Flavor scalloped potatoes with onions, peppers, or pimiento. We've even used fresh dill. Some recipes suggest adding diced leftover ham, which creates a full-meal deal - otherwise known as a casserole.

To avoid problems with curdled milk when baking scalloped potatoes, check the following:

•  Oven temperature; it should be no higher than 375 degrees F, and the spuds shouldn't bake too long. I like to parboil my potatoes before I slice them into my baking dish so that they need no more than 30 to 35 minutes in the oven.

•  Excess moisture - you don't want any. Pat your slices dry with paper toweling before layering them into your baking dish.

•  Binding; you'll need one. If you're using acidic ingredients such as onion, parsley, and pimiento in the dish, bind all ingredients together with a flour-thickened sauce instead of simply covering them with milk or cream.

Finally, when just a hint of flavor is wanted, rub the inside of the baking dish with a couple cut cloves of garlic. Allow enough time for the garlic juice to dry before buttering your dish.

Any way you make them, however, paired with a green salad and crusty bread, you've got a satisfying supper. Scalloped potatoes are one of our favorite ways to warm the tummy when it's cold outside!


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