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Baked Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

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In the heart of the South, where comfort food reigns supreme, there’s nothing quite like a dish of Baked Southern Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes to bring warmth and satisfaction to the table. With layers of tender russet potatoes enveloped in a creamy, cheesy sauce, this recipe is a celebration of simple ingredients and bold flavors. Whether served as a side dish or the star of the meal, these scalloped potatoes are sure to become a beloved favorite in your kitchen. Let’s dive into the recipe and bring a taste of the South to your home!

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Ingredients:

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  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped (optional, for garnish)

Instructions:

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  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Potatoes: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set aside. Peel the russet potatoes and thinly slice them into rounds. Rinse the sliced potatoes under cold water to remove excess starch, then pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. Make the Cheese Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the all-purpose flour to form a smooth paste, creating a roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until it turns golden brown and fragrant.
  3. Add Milk and Seasonings: Gradually pour in the whole milk while whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, adjusting to taste.
  4. Stir in Cheese: Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the shredded sharp cheddar cheese until it melts and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
  5. Layer Potatoes and Cheese Sauce: Arrange half of the sliced potatoes in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the potatoes, spreading it evenly with a spoon or spatula. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cheese sauce, creating two layers.
  6. Top with Parmesan Cheese: Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the top of the potato and cheese layers, adding a flavorful crust to the dish.
  7. Bake: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  8. Garnish and Serve: Remove the foil from the baking dish and garnish the baked scalloped potatoes with freshly chopped chives, if desired. Allow the dish to cool slightly before serving, then scoop out generous portions and enjoy the comforting flavors of the South!

Cook’s Notes:

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  • Potato Slicing: To ensure even cooking, aim to slice the potatoes to a consistent thickness, approximately 1/8 inch thick.
  • Cheese Variations: While sharp cheddar cheese adds a bold flavor to this dish, you can experiment with different cheese blends such as Gruyère, Swiss, or Monterey Jack for unique taste profiles.
  • Make-Ahead Option: Prepare the scalloped potatoes up to one day in advance, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as directed.

Variations:

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  • Herb Infusion: Add a handful of fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or parsley to the cheese sauce for an aromatic twist.
  • Bacon Lover’s Delight: For a decadent touch, sprinkle cooked and crumbled bacon between the layers of potatoes and cheese sauce.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. Can I use a different type of potato? While russet potatoes are traditional for scalloped potatoes due to their starchy texture, you can experiment with Yukon Gold or red potatoes for a creamier result.
  2. Can I use skim milk instead of whole milk? While whole milk provides richness to the cheese sauce, you can use skim milk or low-fat milk as a lighter alternative. Keep in mind that the sauce may be slightly less creamy.
  3. How do I know when the scalloped potatoes are done? The potatoes should be fork-tender, meaning they yield easily when pierced with a fork. Additionally, the cheese on top should be golden brown and bubbling.
  4. Can I freeze leftovers? Yes, you can freeze leftover scalloped potatoes in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake in a preheated oven until heated through.

In conclusion, Baked Southern Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes are a quintessential comfort food that captures the essence of Southern hospitality and culinary tradition. With layers of tender potatoes bathed in a creamy cheese sauce, this dish embodies the warmth and flavor of home-cooked meals shared with loved ones. Whether served as a side dish or the main attraction, these scalloped potatoes are sure to evoke feelings of comfort and satisfaction with every bite.

Experience the taste of the South with this irresistible recipe for Baked Southern Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, and savor the simple pleasures of good food and cherished memories.

That concludes our journey through this delectable Southern classic. Enjoy every cheesy, comforting bite!

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