Monday, November 08, 2010

Mmmm Magic Potatoes

It must be the Irish in me...I love potatoes in almost any form. Baked, fried, boiled, mashed, gratin, French fried, chips, in bread...you get the idea.

Today I put the food processor to work and made a variation of potatoes in the savoyarde style. Thinly sliced, unpeeled (but you can also do it with peeled potatoes which is more elegant) potatoes are layered, in a buttered casserole, with a mince of onions and garlic, some cubed ham, some salt and pepper, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of dried sage. Once the layers are done you add chicken broth and milk, cover it with foil and bake to let the potatoes cook and absorb the liquids. After 30 minutes you uncover the casserole, check for tenderness, add some shredded cheese on top, and bake a little more so that the cheese melts and browns and the potatoes finish getting all nice and soft and lovely. There is something magical about how these flavors combine and it's a perfect dish for cooler weather.

This delightful (although not low calorie) casserole is a meal in itself. All you need to add is a green salad or fruit compote. If you have a food processor with a slicer attachment this potato dish goes together and into the oven in about 20 -25 minutes. The baking takes a while but it's worth it. Just the wonderful smell when it is almost done is enough to make me salivate. I'll try to post some photos of servings later, but right now just look at they browned cheese goodness!

If you prefer, you can layer white potato slices, then yam slices, then white, then yam, and so on, with or without the addition of the ham. Hot, hearty, savory and filling...that's the magic of these potatoes.

Ham and Potatoes Savoyarde Style
serves 6

enough butter to grease the casserole (about 1 teaspoon)
about 2 pounds potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup diced ham
about 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
about 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or Swiss is nice, too)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a 2 quart casserole. The best kind is more shallow than deep and wider to give you more top surface.

Layer the potatoes, overlapping slightly in a single layer on the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle with about 1/4 of the onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg and sage. Scatter about 1/4 cup diced ham over the layer. Repeat with remaining potatoes, onion, garlic, and ham, seasoning to taste as you go.

Pour the chicken broth over the potatoes and then pour in the milk. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove foil and distribute the cheese evenly over the top of the casserole. Return it to the oven and bake for another 25 - 35 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the potatoes are tender.
Serve warm.

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