Is it just me, or do you get confused between au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes, too?
Not sure why it’s so difficult for Dustin and me to remember, but I guess it’s just one of those many things.
Last week, while Dustin and I discussed (for probably the twentieth time) which one was the “cheesy one” and which one was the “milky one,” I decided I’d do my own problem-solving — SPC style. (For the most part, I have learned over the years that, if I make it, I remember it. The things I do for clarity, eh?)
I did some research on the matter and re-learned (again…*sigh*) it’s the au gratin potatoes I prefer. Because…well…they’re cheesy and baked until golden and crispy. What’s not to like?
Scalloped potatoes, on the other hand, are the milk-based potato dish. Nothing against milk, but I’m a cheesy kinda girl. Wait a minute…that didn’t come out right. Ugh. Well, you get what I mean.
Now that the definition was settled and I was confident to clearly declare my understanding of cheesy au gratin potatoes once more, it was time to make them. I wanted to go all out with these au gratins by adding additional flavors to the cheesy-potato-goodness. So, I brought in the big guns: bacon and mushrooms. Yup.
And it was good.
I love the combination of au gratin potatoes and ham…maybe even for Christmas dinner. As for Thanksgiving, I don’t usually have au gratin potatoes because there’s just not enough space on my plate for another side. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes
3 medium russet potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 cremini mushrooms, large diced
1/2 large onion, diced
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place potato slices in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 6 minutes. This will save significant time baking, as it will start to cook the potatoes.
Over medium-high heat, cook bacon for 3 minutes, or until it begins to sweat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until tender. Season with additional kosher salt and/or black pepper to taste. Add garlic and cook for one additional minute. Remove from heat.
In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in flour and 1/2 tsp. salt, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for one minutes. Add the milk and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring very frequently, until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheddar cheese all at once and stir until melted. Continue to stir for one minute after cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and add more kosher salt if needed.
In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, onion-mushroom-bacon mixture and cheese sauce. Gently toss to combine, making sure to coat the potatoes as evenly as possible.
Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 40-50 minutes, until potatoes are completely tender. Remove aluminum foil and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes until top is golden brown.