Scalloped Potatoes for Thanksgiving? Three recipes

Are you gravy challenged? I'm 45 years old and have finally gotten comfortably with my "gravy-ness" within the last few years. Wondra WAS my life-saver, but now I can use flour, cornstarch, a roux that Harry rocks and get yummy gravy no matter what I started with. Oh, and a few lumps are perfectly acceptable!

I like scalloped potatoes because you don't have to make gravy. Have you ever read the label on one of those jars? Even worse, one of the packaged mixes???? AAAGH! More multi-syllable words than you can shake a stick at.

Thanksgiving Dinner doesn't have to include mashed potatoes and gravy. Repeat after me: "Thanksgiving Dinner doesn't have to include mashed potatoes and gravy." Repeat again.

Yes, I dream of the Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood with the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy...on and on and on. But, why torture yourself or settle for a jar of gravy when you can change up the menu to include scalloped potatoes? Oh, and scalloped potatoes always seem to reheat easier than mashed potatoes.

Don't you feel better already? You rebel, you.

By the way - I LOVE cooking with Granite Ware! I have 3 oval roasting pans in different sizes, plus a huge Granite Ware pan for lasagna. No matter what sticky (scalloped potatoes), messy (scalloped potatoes) semi-burned on sometimes (scalloped potatoes) casserole I cook, it's so easy to clean.

Scalloped potatoes can also be cooked in a slow cooker, eliminating the need for a stovetop burner or space in the oven. I have adapted my family's scalloped potatoes recipe for the slow cooker. Please keep in mind, when using a slow cooker it is necessary to allow plenty of cooking time. Starting the scalloped potatoes the night before your Thanksgiving dinner will allow sufficient time to cook, and alleviate preparation on the day of your dinner.

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes - Serves 8-10

3 pounds russet potatoes, well- scrubbed, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 14 oz. can evaporated milk
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
4 tablespoons butter, diced
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
sea salt to taste
additional heavy cream, whole milk or half and half, if desired

Spray the inside of a 3 ½ quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, except the additional cream. Cover and cook at Low heat for 8-10 hours. Remove cover 30 minutes before serving to allow sauce to thicken, if necessary. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with additional cream. If your slow cooker has a "warm" setting, scalloped potatoes will hold very well.

Traditional Scalloped Potatoes - Serves 6

3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups milk (not skim), warmed
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a heavy medium saucepan, sauté onion in butter over low heat until onion begins to soften. Add flour and cook, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Using a wire whisk, slowly add milk, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and continue to stir for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Grease a 9-inch square baking dish or shallow 2-quart casserole. Place a single layer of potato slices on the bottom of dish and cover with ½ of the white sauce. Repeat the layers. Cover the dish and bake for 1 hour. Remove the cover and bake for 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft and top is lightly browned.

Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving so that sauce will thicken.

While traditional scalloped potatoes are made with a creamy white sauce, in my area many people enjoy a cheesy potato casserole instead. Starting with frozen cubed potatoes, the preparation is very quick and is another dish that can easily be made in a slow cooker.

Cheesy Potato Casserole - Serves 10-12

1 32-oz. bag frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed
 1 4-cup bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 10 ¾ oz cream of chicken soup
1 10 ¾ oz cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion, diced
1 8 oz. container sour cream
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
½ teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Spray the inside of a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook, covered, at High heat for 4-5 hours. Remove cover during last 30-45 minutes of cooking to allow mixture to thicken.

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