Scalloped Potatoes with Ham – Comfort Food!

THIS is comfort food.  If you are vegetarian, see the end of the post for how to adapt this recipe without losing out on all the flavors.  Although, I think this came out so very wonderfully because I used ham from the amazing ham I prepared last week using My New Favorite Ham recipe.

Click the recipe title to see the original recipe from which I started.
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

An asterisk * means I made a change to or added an ingredient.

•    2 tablespoons butter
•    2 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat flour)
•    1 1/2 cups milk via a 5 oz can of evaporated milk, 2 Tbsp of instant dry milk, and water to make 1 1/2 cups total.*
•    1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (will use more next time!)*
•    Salt and pepper
•    1-2 tsp dried parsley *
•    2 tablespoon olive oil (for sauteing)*
•    2 medium onions, thinly sliced
•    1 cup chopped green bell pepper *
•    3/4 cup grated carrot *
•    1.25 lb of assorted potatoes, thinly sliced (I used what I had on hand)*
•    8 ounces/2 cups of cooked ham in about 1/2 inch chunks.*
•    1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese *

The main ingredients. I just love all the colors.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a baking dish. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat.

melting butter and pepper flakes
I couldn't resist infusing some red pepper flakes in the butter. I should have used more and will try using 2-3 times the amount next time!

Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.

ready to add milk to the base
The butter and flour ready for the milk.

Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper (and I added parsley, as well)  and set aside.

Thickened sauce
Thickened to the consistency of thin pancake batter.

In a skillet, cook onions in olive oil (or butter if using original recipe ingredients) until golden brown.

onion and pepper ready for casserole

I sauteed the oinons until almost done to my liking before adding the chopped green pepper.  This is because I didn’t want the moisture from the pepper releasing into the oil before the oinions had a chance to start browning.  I cooked the mixture just a bit more, then stirred in the grated carrot and put it all aside until ready to assemble the dish.  I figured the pepper and carrot would have plenty of time to cook in the oven.

Spread one third (1/2 cup) of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onion/veggie mix, ham, and one third (1/2 cup) of the cheese. Pour another third of the sauce  on that layer.  Add the other half of the onion/veggie mix, ham and top with the last 1/2 cup of sauce and remaining cheese.

before the final cheese
After the last of the sauce and before the last of the cheese.
ready for the oven
All set to pop in the oven!

Bake for 45 – an hour minutes  until golden and bubbly. Then, have at it!

This was really, really tasty.  Again, I do think that the leftover ham, with its sweet and spicy flavor, added tremendously to the flavor.  But, I think adding the green pepper and carrot gave a flavor boost to this old favorite, as well.

There is, of course, no reason why this can’t be made with a chopped up ham steak or sliced ham. For some sweetness, use pineapple or apple juice in lieu of water if using evaporated or powered milk, or sprinkle some brown sugar, as well as some clove powder over each layer.

And, if you prefer a vegetarian, or even vegan version, this seasoning method will work for you, also.   And, vegetarian or not, ou can also add more potatoes or other vegetables. Just be be sure to cook more watery veggies  down before baking the final dish so as to not add too much moisture.

If you want a “meaty” texture in there, use soy or seitan (wheat gluten) based protein items that have a smoky/ham sort of flavor. Also – when I was eating a vegan diet, I had no problem making a nice roux/white sauce with soy or rice milk, etc.  I think I actually made it with just flour, oil, and water a few times.  (Hmm, I will have to try that to make sure my memory is correct!)

All-in-all, this is a tasty and pleasantly textured dish, whether you follow the traditional recipe I link to at the top,  try out my version or experiment with my additional suggestions.  In the end, it is indeed one of those comfort food dishes that every cook should have in their repertoire.  Except for my friend Kathleen who can no longer eat onions.  I have NO idea what to substitute for that!