Is there a particular food item that you prefer the packaged version over the real deal? Maybe you grew up eating Hamburger Helper and homemade, from-scratch cheesy mac just doesn’t do it for you. Chocolate pudding is one of those for me. I have made homemade chocolate pudding, but I still prefer the stuff in the plastic cup. Until a few years ago when I found this recipe, I only liked Stouffer’s frozen lasagna.
Scalloped potatoes has been another. I know, I know, how can freeze dried potatoes and powdered cheese from a cardboard box even compare, right? But it’s true! I have made from-scratch potatoes au gratin several times with underwhelming results. Something was missing and I never could figure out what that something was. For awhile, I just gave up.
Then a few weeks ago out of the blue, The Husband requested scalloped potatoes. Like me, he probably grew up eating the stuff from a box and that’s what he was actually craving.
Oh, no sir, we’re not serving potatoes from a box in this house.
I actually let his request slip in one ear and out the other for awhile for the exact reason mentioned above: I had just not found that recipe. Then, like a sign from God, America’s Test Kitchen posted a recipe for “Potato Casserole with Bacon and Caramelized Onion” on their Facebook page.
It sounded amazing and the picture looked even better. Maybe this was it.
It did a little preliminary research on the difference between scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin. Au Gratin is French for “with cheese.” Scalloped potatoes contain some sort of dairy other than cheese like milk or cream. This recipe has neither of those components, so I guess we’re sticking to potato casserole.
There is a lot of chopping and slicing involved with this recipe, so I would recommend having everything prepped before you begin. A mandolin slicer is a real time-saver here, but if you don’t have one, don’t let that discourage you from trying this. Slice the onions and the potatoes as thin as you possibly. You may have to increase your cooking time slightly.
I served this alongside a T-bone steak The Husband so graciously grilled to perfection. But the potatoes absolutely stole the show! The beef broth gave them slight meaty flavor, so they were the perfect accompaniment to the steaks.
If you decide to add some cheese, I would recommend something like Swiss over cheddar. While these were tasty without the cheese, I think the addition of cheese would put them over the top!
Thank goodness I can finally mark scalloped potatoes off my list. I have found my recipe!
Potato Casserole with Bacon and Carmelized Onion
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ¼ cups beef broth
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced to about ⅛-inch thick.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon slices, then quartered
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, or prepare 6-8 ramekins for individual servings.
- Cook bacon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until crisp, about 10-13 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon from the pan onto paper towel. Reserve the bacon drippings in the skillet.
- Turn the temperature up to medium heat. Add the onions to the bacon drippings along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until onions start to become soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the skillet if the onions start to become too dark too quickly.
- Transfer onion to a large bowl. Return the saucepan to the hot burner.
- Pour the broth into the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring broth to a simmer.
- Add the bacon, thyme, remaining salt, pepper and potatoes to the bowl with the onions. Stir until mixture is well-combined. Spread into your baking dish or spoon an even amount into your gratin dishes. Carefully pour the hot broth over top.
- Dot the surface of the casserole with butter.
- Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.