Mrs. Grossnickle made the best recipe of “Scalloped Potatoes” that I can ever remember. The dish was probably loaded with cream and butter. Not healthy by today’s standards, but very tasty. When I was growing up, the Grossnickles lived across a cow pasture which we could see from where we lived on a small hill. “Scalloped Potatoes” was served at almost every Sunday dinner after church and especially at holidays such as Easter. I am guessing that we were invited to the Grossnickle’s home for some of these meals and this is where I ate the “best” dish of “Scalloped Potatoes.” I consider this to be an old-fashioned “comfort food” and still like the dish after all these years; although with slightly less cream. For nostalgia, I’m making this dish again on Easter Sunday.
The Grossnickles moved away from our small community in the Shenandoah Valley when I was still young. In reminisces with other childhood friends, memories of the Grossnickles are of a vivacious and friendly family. I’ll never know why their scalloped potato recipe made such a lasting impression on me — I guess we all have memories of some things tucked away inside our brains. Perhaps it was the positive nature of the family that was the real impact on me. In any event, we never know what lasting effects a person might have on other people. So let’s keep an upbeat attitude in these tumultuous times!
Over the years, the little rural town which I grew up hasn’t changed much in terms of population or appearance. Here is a current view of the town from the top of a hill near where we lived and looking towards Round Hill with the Appalachian mountains and West Virginia in the distance.
Old-Fashioned Comfort Food
Why does a person need a recipe for “Scalloped Potatoes,” you might ask? The dish is not common in Louisiana, but it certainly is a standard meal item in other parts of the country. It is a great dish for a weekday supper meal as well as a buffet or festive gathering of folks. This is a simple and tasty way to prepare potatoes and I’ll always keep this recipe handy.
“Scalloped Potatoes” was such a standard meal item when we were growing up that all my siblings can distinctly remember our mother cooking the dish. They helped fill in some of the gaps on how this recipe was prepared. Potatoes appeared in some fashion at almost every supper or dinner meal in our home and especially on Sundays. Our mother would set the delayed timer on the oven so that the potatoes were cooked when we got home from church. The entire meal was ready to eat at precisely the correct time.
When my brothers graduated from college and moved away from home, our mother typed up recipes of some of their favorite foods. This included “Scalloped Potatoes.” So, for a bit of nostalgia, I’m going to make this comfort food again.
Making the Recipe
The recipe is very easy to make. Our mother took several short cuts which adds to the simplicity And I’m making the recipe with milk rather than cream to cut down calories and fat. Substitute low-fat milk or skim milk for an even lower fat version.
Here is an important tip for making the dish. Use flavorful potatoes. Although this seems trivial; there is a huge difference in flavor of potatoes and you can’t add flavor to bland potatoes. You either have a great dish of “Scalloped Potatoes” or a really blaa dish. Find a produce market or grocery store with good quality potatoes and use a consistent source. I use Russet potatoes in this dish — not Gold Yukon potatoes or new red potatoes.
To make the recipe, six medium-sized Russet potatoes are peeled and thinly sliced. I used a mandoline slicer to cut the potatoes. That’s how thin these potatoes are cut. Very thin. (Memory from oldest brother.) The potatoes are heated in a little water in a large pot on the stove which cuts down on the baking time. Rather than making a white sauce (which uses another pot), add the milk and flour directly to the potatoes in the pot on the stove. Then, the potatoes and sauce are transferred to an oiled 3 quart casserole dish along with salt, pepper and onions. They are finished by baking the oven. I like to add a few small dots of margarine for flavor to the layers of sliced potatoes since we are skipping the heavy cream. Cheddar cheese can be added to the casserole, but this is entirely optional and was rarely done in our home.
So that’s the dish! Just in time for Sunday dinner. Quite easy to make!
So, now we have a simple recipe for making “Scalloped Potatoes.” Love the memories of growing up in rural Virginia..
Old-Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes from Hazel Heisey
- 6 medium (2 lb, 12 oz) Russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6 cups sliced)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 medium white or yellow onion sliced or diced
- 4 Tbsp butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, if desired
- 2 green onions, garnish, optional
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 3 quart casserole dish with a lid.
- Pare and thinly slice the potatoes. Use a mandoline slicer, if available.
- Add potatoes to large pot along with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil.
- Add milk.
- Sprnkle four over potatoes. Stir quickly to mix without lumping flour. Bring to a bil and then turn burner off. Add other salt and pepper.
- Transfer oiled baking dish adding onions slices (or diced onion, if preferred) and margarine or butter between potato layers.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. May partially cover at first. Then uncover after 30 minutes to brown.
If desired, garnish with chopped green onions
NOTE: If potatoes are covered tightly or the baking casserole dish is too small, the milk may boil over and burn in the oven!
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