This Thanksgiving is the first year I won't be cooking in three years. I'm going to my sisters. To play with her baby and to make small talk with her in-laws. I like it there, no pretense and a lot of disruptions. We laugh. I take her elderly dog outside, then sit by a heater to keep my feet warm.
I like it there. I share a cigarette with her husband and I'm bringing a 12-pack with me. I know how it goes, she'll cook for four hours and we'll eat in 20. I'll help clean up, take a nap with Lana. I'll bring a side dish, the potatoes below. I'll make myself useful but stay out of the way. I'm still a voyeur in some senses of the word; watching the world I left four years ago and still trying to grow accustomed to it now. I hope I'm not too deer-legged in trying.
Hasselback Scalloped Potatoes
A better alternative to the boxed scalloped potatoes your mom has probably tried to doctor up with peas or ham. These are simple to make and nearly foolproof, yet still a fun play on a classic. My favorite kind of recipes these days.
- 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and dried
- 1 yellow onion, cut into chunks
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 TB unsalted butter
- 3 TB flour
- 2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 4 strips of bacon
- First, grease your pan with butter. Use a shallow casserole dish, such as the Falk pan pictured here
- Preheat oven to 400*F
- Next, using a sharp knife, cut your potatoes into thin slices, but not going all the way through the skin on the bottom, so they are held together by a brown tendon of flesh
- Arrange your potatoes in your prepared pan, putting chunks of garlic and onion in between the spaces the potatoes have made
- Now, in a saucepan, melt your butter on medium-high heat
- Whisk in your flour and continue whisking until it is slightly browned and aromatic
- Slowly add your milk in and continue whisking for a good minute, until the edges bubble and the sauce begins to thicken
- Now, add your cream cheese and one and a half cups of your cheddar and continue whisking to melt them
- Take off heat, whisk in your spices (to taste)
- Pour over your potatoes. Do this slowly and completely smother them, fanning the potatoes to get in each slice
- Top with remaining cheddar and breadcrumbs
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour covered
- While potatoes are baking, fry your bacon and cut into small "lardons"
- After one hour, remove foil, top dish with bacon and continue to bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes
- Allow to cool before serving