Cheesy potatoes…enough said

Here comes another great side dish for any occasion.  Cheese and potatoes have been friends for a really long time…let’s do some analogies about the cheese/potato combo because I’m a nerd and I think it’s fun…cheese is to potatoes like hairspray is to the 80’s…cheese is to potatoes like snow is to the Midwest…cheese is to potatoes like Ryan Gosling is to me (that dude is always all over me!).

That was fun…

I made this side dish along with the broccoli salad (recipe here) for our BBQ chicken dinner last weekend.  This is a cinch to prepare and cooks in the oven so it’s perfect if your main course is going on the grill or being cooked on a spit (in other words, anything that doesn’t require the oven).

Here are the ingredients…

4-5 large russet potatoes
3 tbsp – butter
3 tbsp – all purpose flour
2 cups milk (skim or 2% work fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg 
12 oz. cheese (cheddar, colby jack, etc.)

Start with about 5 good sized russet potatoes…

Cut them into about 1/4 inch slices and place one layer down in a buttered 9 x 13 glass dish in what I call a “fish scale” pattern…

Now sprinkle some salt and pepper over this layer and then keep putting down potato slices in a nice pattern…or just plop the rest on like I did…

I threw some dabs of butter on top that I had left over from greasing the dish, there is no sense in wasting butter, am I right?

Now we’re going to make a Béchamel sauce…that sounds so fancy, it’s not.  Béchamel just means “white sauce” and all it consists of is butter that is cooked with some flour and then milk is added.  The result is magical.

So start by melting your butter in a sauce pan…

For some reason I don’t have any pics of me adding the flour and whisking it for a few minutes, but that’s what you need to do to make the roux (another fancy word that just means cooking flour in butter).

After you cook the flour/butter mixture for a minute or so, add your milk…

Now it looks like a big soupy mess…which is just perfect.

Cook this mixture over medium low heat, stirring frequently with your whisk…after about 7 minutes you will end up with a wonderful thick sauce called…say it with me, “Béchamel!”

This sauce is already the bomb but we are going to take it to the next level…by adding some grated cheddar cheese…

Ohhhhh, my lord…that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Once it’s melted in, you have this…

 This looks like liquid gold because it IS liquid gold.  Go ahead and taste this amazingness and add some salt and pepper if you would like.  This is also when I add the nutmeg, you are under no obligation to add nutmeg but in my personal experience it’s the right decision.

This cheese sauce can be used for a multitude of culinary delights…perfect for homemade macaroni, or dipping sauce for soft pretzels…or even soup if you want to add some broccoli or beer!

Now pour this all over the potatoes!

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I had some left over cheese so I added that on top (I highly recommend this part!)

Now put some foil over the whole thing and throw it in your oven at 400°F oven for about an hour.

Take the foil off about 15 minutes before so you can get that bubbly-ness that we all adore so much.

Oh hey there cheesy potatoes…I’m going to eat you now.

This dish is GOOD with a capital G and a capital O and…you get it.

Cheers to cheese and other wonderful things!

The Good Cooker

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