If there are cheese potatoes on the table during the holidays, they will probably be the first thing on my plate. And if there are enough, I'll probably go back for seconds!
This recipe adds ham to the mix, making it a meal unto itself as far as I'm concerned. Tyner Pond Farm's pasture-raised ham options are all excellent for this recipe. I used the ham steak because of the great smokey flavor and I really like the texture you get from a ham steak. The Thanksgiving Extras Bundle offers both smoked boneless ham and ham pieces for seasoning, so you can use whatever you might have on hand.
Many cheese potato recipes call for making a beschamel cheese sauce. I prefer to keep things simple and just let everything melt together in the oven. My brother-in-law's late mother used to make the best cheese potatoes ever, and simple layering is how she did it, so that's how I do it. The hardest part is evenly dividing up your ingredients to layer them and not have too much of something left over. It's not an exact science, so just eyeball it. I don't think I've ever made cheese potatoes the exact same way twice. It varies with the particular type of ingredients I have on hand. Red potatoes, white onions, random mostly empty packs of shredded cheese, leftover deli ham... it all works! I've even completely forgotten the butter before <gasp>, but they still turned out just fine.
Ingredients: (fills a 9x13 baking dish)
3 lbs. russet potatoes
2 c. shredded TPF ham
1 1/2 c. shredded American cheese
1/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c. grated Parmesan (the real stuff, NOT the powder)
1/3 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 stick butter cut into about 12 1/8" pats (4 T. cut into pieces)
1 cup diced red onion
2 heaping T. flour (divided)
1 c. evaporated milk
salt & pepper
chives & sour cream (optional)
Directions: (Preheat oven to 350° F)
1. In a large skillet, quickly brown both sides of ham steak on med. high heat. Shred with a fork. **If you're using other cuts of ham, just diced into desired size.
2. Slice potatoes and dice onions. Remember, if you slice your potatoes too early, you'll need to keep them completely covered with water to prevent oxidation.
3. If you're using white or yellow onions, toss them into the skillet with the fat rendered from the ham. Cook until translucent, stirring frequently. If you're using red onions, pre-cooking isn't necessary.
4. Toss all of the shredded cheeses together until evenly mixed. Keep the grated Parmesan separate. This will make it easier to distribute evenly without all the Parmesan settling to the bottom.
5. Begin layering your ingredients with a sprinkle of flour over the bottom of the pan (the 2 heaping tablespoons will be divided up between the layers) with three broken up pats of butter laid evenly spread out. Then, cover the bottom of the pan in a layer of potatoes. Overlap them to make sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, sprinkle with ham, diced onions, and cover with cheese blend plus Parmesan. Then, start over with broken up pats of butter and a sprinkle of flour. You'll make about 3-4 layers ending with cheese.
6. Once all your layers are assembled, pour milk evenly over the top.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for about 25-30 more minutes or until it's bubbling and the cheese is browning around the edges. Check that potatoes are tender through the center.
Allow to cool several minutes to set. Don't worry... they're crazy hot. Serve with chives and sour cream. Enjoy!
Check out Kami's recent recipe for Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Gravy, Potatoes, and Carrots.