Tag Archives: Pioneer Woman

Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

18 Jun
Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole

I volunteered to make ham and scalloped potato casserole to bring to a Father’s Day BBQ last weekend. Actually, my husband had volunteered to bake a ham, but by the time he informed me of this the hostess had already bought ribs for the event AND my husband had already defrosted the ham we stuck in the freezer last month when it went on sale.

We had about 12 people to feed. Armed with all those factoids, I decided a scalloped potato casserole would work, and then I could add some of the leftover ham that we ended up baking the day before Father’s Day instead.

I found a great recipe for this on one of my favorite foodie cook’s site, The Pioneer Woman. Gosh, I don’t even know how many gajilion recipes I’ve made of hers. She makes it look sooo easy and her food photography is great! She calls it Scalloped Potatoes, but with all the cheese it’s really Au Gratin too, so I added that to the title.

However, last time I made a dish with a ton of sliced potatoes (mind you we are feeding a crowd), it took me over 45 minutes to slice the potatoes, and even then, they were haphazardly sliced, at best. I’m terrible at slicing thin potatoes.

I decided to risk life and limb and invest in a food slicer (also known as a mandoline, and no, not the instrument kind.) They now come with hand guards and decided I could make the plunge and invest in one. And heck, it was less than 10 bucks! What was I waiting for???? Those horror stories of old of trips to the emergency room to re-attach a fingertip are long gone with this device.

My new love:

Food Slicer and Potatoes

Food Slicer and Potatoes

Story: I got the slicer all assembled and cut a potato in half (to have a flat surface to start with). I put it on the gadget and quickly ran it twice up and down to slice. Nothing. Nada. I was like… “Uggh, this thing doesn’t even work! And then I lifted it up, and two beautiful slices were laying underneath it on the cutting board. Really? I thought I would feel some resistance, something, anything! Nooop! That blade is so sharp it was like cutting through soft butter. I had 3 pounds of potatoes sliced perfect-thin in under 10-minutes! WOW! Happy me. 🙂

The below recipe is how I made it as I didn’t have all the ingredients, but you can find the original recipe link below. And just use whatever cheese you have on hand. I used all my cheddar for another recipe earlier in the week, so ended up used store-bought grated Colby-Jack combined with some fresh-grated Gruyere cheese. Either way it came out great! I didn’t have much to bring home from the BBQ. Now on to the recipe.

Ham and Scalloped Au Gratin Potato Casserole)
Adapted from Ree Drumond, The Pioneer Woman, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

3 pounds Russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
3 cups ham, diced
1/2 cup half-and-half (that is all I had, you can use more and reduce the milk for creamier potatoes)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese (mixture of Colby and Monterey Jack)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees then butter a large casserole dish. (Mine was 9 x 13 inches.) Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook for several minutes until they start to turn translucent. Add the ham and cook for another few minutes until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sauteeing Ham and Onions

Sauteing Ham and Onions

Combine the half-and-half and milk in a microwave-safe container and cook in the microwave for about a minute, until no longer cold. Whisk in flour and black pepper until combined. Set aside.

Using a vegetable slicer (or a knife if you don’t own one), slice potatoes into 1/8-inch slices. Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of the ham/onion mixture over that, then 1/3 of the cheese.

Scalloped Potatoes without Milk

Scalloped Potatoes without Milk ~ Sometimes I don’t follow directions exactly

Here is where I went astray. I forgot to pour 1/3 of the milk mixture over it until the end, but if you want you can pour on 1/3 of the milk mixture now. It didn’t seem to make a difference.

Repeat this twice more, ending with a sprinkling of cheese and pouring on the rest of the milk mixture (or in my case, all at once). Then grind a bunch more of black pepper over it. Cover the pan with foil and bake for an hour.

Peeking at Casserole

Peeking at Casserole ~ Yes I peeked at the casserole at the hour mark

Remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes at least, or until bubbly and hot and the potatoes are tender. Check with a fork periodically for doneness.

p.s. (You can make this ahead of time and cook later. I cooked mine to the one hour mark, then brought it to the BBQ. About a half hour before ready to eat, I uncovered it, popped it in a preheated oven and baked until ready, about a half hour more.)

Casserole in Oven

Casserole in Oven ~ I had to check on that puppy! Baked beans underneath from other guest cooking

 

 

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese

1 Jan
French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese

French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese

First off, Happy New Year 2014! Here I am in my third year of food blogging, and loving it! Yes, I soaked my Black-Eyed Peas last night, and will be cooking them up today for dinner. I cannot start out the New Year without a big mess o’ black-eyed peas. But my recipe today is the classic take on French Onion Soup, with a couple of changes. For one, I didn’t have any Gruyere cheese, but I did have a big hunk of Brie cheese. I had a slight “argument” the other night with a friend of mine who said you can’t shred Brie cheese as it’s too soft, but I have pictures as proof! You just need to have it chilled really good.

Grated Brie Cheese

Grated Brie Cheese ~ See, You Can Really Grate Brie Cheese!

The other change I made was to simmer it in my Crock Pot instead of over the stove, because, I’m all about easy! There are a few things I would change about this recipe next time I make it. For one, I would use ALL beef broth instead of a combination of chicken and beef broth. I think I would prefer the richness of all beef broth. Next, I would use a really dry wine instead of the sweet white wine I used (because that is all I had at the time). The caramelization of the onions already adds sweetness, and the sweet white made it a tad too sweet for me. I tempered that by adding some salt to my bowl and topping with some Parmesan cheese in addition to the Brie.

Next time I’d also splurge on some Gruyere cheese. The Brie was nice, but a bit too mellow. And last, the recipe I based this on said to use four to six medium onions. After four onions I deemed I had enough, but I really think I should have used five and maybe even six instead. But still, all in all a decent recipe, and I loved using the oven to caramelize the onions instead of sweating and stirring constantly on the stove. It worked out great!

French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese
Adapted from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, French Onion Soup

4 to 6 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
1 stick of butter
1 cup of white wine (preferably dry)
4 cups each homemade or low sodium chicken and beef broth (or all beef!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
Thick slices of French baguette bread
Butter for bread
Grated Brie or Gruyere cheese, for topping
Additional Parmesan for topping
Salt to taste, if needed

French Onion Soup Ingredients

French Onion Soup Ingredients

I forgot the butter in my ingredients photo! But it’s not hard to forget once you start cooking. Start out by peeling then slicing your onions thin. It helps to have a really sharp knife. I’m not a great slicer of even thicknesses, but it all works out.

Slicing the Onions

Slicing the Onions

Next, add the butter to a large soup pot or dutch oven and melt it. After I took this shot of the elusive butter, doesn’t it look like the butter is melting over the planet earth from space? No? I’m very strange in that way.

Melting the Butter

Melting the Butter ~ On Planet Earth!

Next, begin preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, add that big mess of sliced onions to the melted butter, stir around to coat, then cover and cook over medium heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Here they are after coated in the butter. It looked like plenty of onions to me at that point!

Pot of Sliced Onions

Pot of Sliced Onions

After giving a good stir after 20 minutes, add the covered pot to the 400-degree oven, cracking the lid a bit to help the browning. Since the lid to my pot was round, I had a hard time getting it to crack properly. After 30 minutes, I deemed cracking the lid was useless so uncovered it completely at that point, so you might want to too, if you have a round pot you are using. I gave them another good stir, then cooked for about 45 minutes more or so, stirring occasionally, until they were nice and brown.

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

Once your onions are all nice and brown and caramelized, take the pot out of the oven and put it over the stove top over medium heat. Add the cup of wine, then deglaze the pot, including scraping all the brown stuff off from the edges. Cook for about five more minutes until the wine reduces about half. Add the chicken and beef broths (or all beef), plus the two splashes of Worcestershire sauce and garlic.

Pouring in the Broth

Pouring in the Broth

At this point you can either simmer it for about 45 minutes on the stove top, or do like me and pour it into your slow cooker and keep it on warm until ready to eat. I made this during the daytime, so opted for the crock pot method, as it was way early to eat at that point. Plus, as I said, I like easy, and getting the main bulk of dinner out of the way early is good in my book!

Soup Simmering in Crock Pot

Soup Simmering in Crock Pot

About 10 minutes before you are ready to eat, slice up the French bread baguette (enough for topping individual ramekins for the amount of people you are feeding), then butter them.

Buttering the Baguette

Buttering the Baguette

Put them on a rack in the oven on broil, until browned and crispy. Ooh these look delish!

Toasted Baguette Slices

Toasted Baguette Slices

Now ladle some soup into individual ramekins, top with baguette slices to fit, then top with the cheese(es). Broil for several minutes until melted and browned. Remove (carefully!) from oven, and serve immediately. This is a great basis for a good French Onion Soup with about half the fuss, so if you take my suggestions and prepare this the suggested way, it’s sure to please! For the printable recipe, scroll down below and click on the PDF link image. Happy New Year!

French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese

French Onion Soup with Brie Cheese

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

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