Think of this as a streamlined and guilt-free version of scalloped potatoes. It’s a toss-and-dump dish, in which I toss sliced potatoes with a little melted butter, dump them in a dish, then cover them with milk—healthier than heavy cream—that I’ve thickened slightly with a bit of flour (the flour keeps the milk from separating). The cheese topping is optional; with or without it, in less than an hour you will be rewarded with lusciously creamy potatoes along with that all-important browned crust.
Makes 4 servings
Active time: 15 min
Total time: 55 min
- 2 pounds medium to large boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold (see Cooks’ Notes)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 4 ounces sharp Cheddar or Gruyère, coarsely grated (1 cup; optional)
- Mandoline or vegetable slicer; 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish (not glass)
- Heat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter baking dish.
- Peel and thinly slice potatoes into a large bowl and toss with butter. Spread potatoes in an even layer in the baking dish.
- Put flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a heavy medium saucepan and slowly whisk in milk until the mixture is smooth.
- Bring milk mixture just to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly (it will thicken slightly), and pour it over the potatoes. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake in oven until potatoes are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Remove foil and sprinkle with cheese, if using. Reset oven to broil and broil potatoes, about 4 to 5 inches from heat, until browned and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.
- The term Yukon gold now loosely refers to any yellow-fleshed potato, no matter what its official name might be. Any yellow-fleshed potato will work well, as will other boiling potatoes, such as large red-skinned ones or the all-purpose type grown in Maine. Avoid baking varieties (a.k.a. russets or Idahos) for this gratin, because they become too starchy, to the point of being mushy.
- If you are making the scalloped potatoes along with the meatloaf, you can bake them side by side on the same rack in the oven. If your pans won’t fit side by side, put the meatloaf in the upper third and the potatoes in the lower third. When it comes to broiling, though, broil each one separately, so that you have more control over how much each dish browns.