Happy Sunday, everyone! We had another really beautiful day at church … incredibly inspiring message (thanks, Dave!), lots of new people, a few faces I hadn’t seen in awhile, one in particular that was very dear to my heart (daughter-ish, even). Being that my husband is the pastor, Sundays tend to be long days for us. Tera was on the worship team this morning, which meant that I had to have her there around 7:35, and we had a ministry leaders’ meeting scheduled for 1:00, right after the second service. I was playing barista in our espresso bar before and after first service, but then, after wiping down the machine and putting everything away, I ran home to pop linner (late lunch; early dinner, don’t ya know) in the oven and crock pot. Today, ham and scalloped potatoes sounded about right.
So … the spiral ham is such a cheat that I feel funny even putting it in the title. All you do is stick the ham in the crock pot, blend up the included packaged glaze mix (if you use that … I don’t usually because I want to use the juices from the ham to make Split Pea Soup, and the glaze ruins it for that), and pour it on. Turn it on high for about 4 hours and you’re done. Do you have a Costco near you? Next time you’re there, grab a ham. Just make sure it’s small enough to fit in your crock pot.
Scalloped potatoes, on the other hand, take a little hands-on effort. But it’s so worth it. This is one of my mom’s recipes. She didn’t cook often, because she was so busy working full-time to support the three of us girls. But when she did, she cooked intuitively, as did my grandmother, and as do I. By that I mean that we didn’t/don’t bother with measuring cups and spoons. Everything comes down to instinct — It feels like I need a dash more of that. I think another handful of this might be nice.
If you’re not used to cooking that way, scalloped potatoes are a good way to try it out. I didn’t even bother estimating anything for you here. I’m just going to explain what seemed right to me. But first … a note about the name “scalloped potatoes.” I was surprised to learn that most of the world considers that title a description of a potato-laden dish flavored only with flour and milk. Uh … what?! Where’s the cheese? To us, this name means “cheesy goodness.” I have been told that the proper name for this dish is “Potatoes Au Gratin.” But if I called them that, my family would give me a blank stare. So I don’t fight it.
The first thing you want to do is to peel a bunch of potatoes. My favorites (now) are Yukon Golds, but growing up, we ate nothing but russets. Peel about 10 of those … or whatever feels right to you according to the size of your baking pan.
Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the bottom of your baking dish. Slice a few of your potatoes thinly and scatter them about the pan. Salt and pepper those too, and add a handful of diced onions.
Now, add a couple shakes of garlic powder and a sprinkling of flour. Not too much flour, or your end product will be glue-ish.
See? That’s not so much. Just a tiny sprinkling. Now go a little crazier with the cheese. If you’re using medium cheddar (which is all I had on hand today), you’ll need a little more than if you were using sharp. I love sharp because you get a more intense flavor with less cheese. But we’re all about using what we have on hand, right?
Now you want to do all of that all over again. You’re probably using a dish that will take at least one more layer of all this–potatoes, salt and pepper, onions, garlic powder, flour, and cheese. Do as many layers as you have room for.
Now you’re going to add milk to the mix. I recommend you add whole milk or 2%, because you just won’t get the rich flavor you want with nonfat. But again, use what you have. Pour the milk juuuust until it comes near (but not to) the top of your last layer of cheese.
See the milk there at the corner? It’s not completely to the top of the mix. If you add too much, you’ll have to cook it a lot longer. Plus, there’s no need to make a soupy mess, right?
Once you’ve added your milk, you’ll want to spray the underneath of a sheet of foil with Pam and secure it over the top of the dish. If you don’t spray it, a lot of your cheese will stick to the foil.
Because I was heading back out to a meeting and knew I’d be gone at least three hours, I set my oven at 300. If I knew I’d be home to check on things, I would probably set it at 325. You don’t want it to burn, but you do want to eat it today. So we need to be in the 300-ish range.
If you put your ham in at the same time, things should be ready in about 4 hours. Take the foil off the scalloped potatoes at 3 1/2 hours and let the top brown up a bit.
Cheesy, ooey, gooey, loveliness. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Enjoy! Tomorrow, some of this ham will be turned into split pea soup.