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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crowd Control....

When I discovered, two days prior to the event, that I was going to a large family supper at Dear Brother-in-laws home, I had to think fast! What was I going to make to bring to such a feast? Well, as luck may have it, I brought my home up to speed after moving in, and laid in a supply of staples in my Pixie Pantry!  See?


I know, right? But....we shopped for a months' worth of supplies! So, within that bunch o' goodies, was a big sack of potatoes, and in the freezer, a couple of ham steaks, and in the fridge of course, cheeses.  The answer became clear! Many years ago, a friend gave me the "Winter" cookbook from Williams Sonoma, and I loved making this ham, cheddar and potato gratin recipe. I decided to double the batch, and make it for the party. First step? Peeling over SIX POUNDS of potatoes! Boy, I had some carpal tunnel  wonderful peeling skills after that!

I placed them in some acidulated (vinegar or lemon juice) water to rest while I prepped the remaining ingredients. I simmered the ham that was now in chunks for around a minute, just to get rid of any fat.

Then, while the ham chunks were draining, I proceeded to shred sharp cheddar (both white and yellow), and smoked cheddar for the cheese sauce. I loves me some cheese.....


I then put the milk on to warm, as that is the basis for the cheese sauce...

Then, the slicing of ALL......THOSE....TATERS! Carumba, that's a lot of taters!

Then, the real fun begins....I got a GIANT foil pan (like you use to roast a turkey in), and began to layer the thin slices of potato with the ham chunks, after oiling the pan to prevent sticking, that is. I try to make sure that people get some ham with every serving of the casserole.


Keep on a-layering until you near the top of the pan, or your potatoes and ham run out...whichever comes first!

Then we melt our butter with flour to make a roux, to begin the cheese-a-licious sauce!


And this is what a regular, not browned roux looks like....





Then, after cooking out the floury taste of the roux, we whisk in our milk that has been keeping warm on the back burner....and add all the glorious cheese!



I then add what I consider to be the secret to the great taste of the dish...brown mustard and cayenne pepper, and whisk until the cheese melts into the sauce...

Let me give you fair warning...you will want to DRINK the sauce...it is that good. Once you pour it over the casserole, do yourself a favor, and lick the bowl, the spoon, the whisk....whatever you used in making the sauce. I should have kept some aside to drink cook with later on...but I never remember to do that! Strangely enough, however...I remembered to save some sharp and smoked cheddar for later snack-age...

My Mom did not raise any dumb puppies, that's for sure! Where was I? OH YEAH, time to pop that bad boy into the oven!

As you can see...I placed the pan on to a large cookie sheet lined with foil...so this Pixie does not have to clean up any stuck on cheese sauce that might go wonky and fly over the top of the pan!  The verdict?


I know, right? It even looks like the photo in the cookbook!  Even the Kitchen Angel was impressed...

And she is not easily moved, I can tell you. It was, and is, simply delicious.

What is your go-to dish for bringing to holiday events? Is it something sweet, or a main course?

Eat and entertain well, my friends, and stay tuned for my re-creation of the Pho soup I miss from my workplace in Alaska!  You remember now, dontcha? From this post! Love and kindness to all,
                                                                          Pixie

2 comments:

  1. Wish I had a pantry that looked like that....
    Wish I had a house that looked like that.....
    Wish I could cook like that......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anyone can cook like this! It's easy, I promise!

    ReplyDelete