Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ham & Potato Au Gratin Casserole

 Variations for this recipe.... You can substitute the green beans with grated or sliced zucchini, broccoli or asparagus spears, or peas. You could also substitute half of the needed potatoes with sweet potatoes.

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups of milk, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of celery seed
  • Seasoning salt, freshly cracked black pepper and Cajun seasoning, to taste
  • 4 medium sized baking potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 cups of chopped cooked ham
  • 1 cup of leftover or frozen vegetables, your choice, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 1-1/2 to 2 quart oblong baker; set aside. Melt the 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour a little at a time and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking until mixture is smooth and fully incorporated. Add onion; cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the milk, a little at a time, until mixture thickens, then stir in the remaining milk. Whisk in 1 cup of cheese until blended, remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream, garlic powder and celery seed; set aside.

Add half of the potatoes to the bottom of the casserole dish, season lightly with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Top with half of the ham and vegetables. Spread half of the sauce over the top and repeat layers, seasoning the potatoes again and ending with all of the remaining sauce. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees F for about 1-1/2 hours. Length of time will depend on thickness of potato slices; test tenderness of the center potatoes with a fork. Uncover, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup or more of cheese on top and return to the oven just until cheese has melted.

Cook's Notes: Double ingredients and make four layers in a larger baking dish for a pot luck. Increase cheese topping as desired. Can also substitute chopped smoked sausage for the ham and 1 can of condensed cheddar cheese soup for the sauce. If using the canned soup, eliminate the first 5 ingredients and add 1/2 can of milk to the mixture of soup and sour cream. Can also be made in the crockpot - layer, cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Tip: I use a mandolin to get thin, even potato slices. If you like your potatoes sliced thicker, or you don't have a mandolin, cut the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick, place them into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, remove pot from the burner, and let them sit in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, pat dry and proceed.

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