Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thanksgiving Revisited

Happy New Year! I was planning to share this post with you a few weeks ago, but alas, time got away from me. I have two delish recipes for you...

These scalloped potatoes are my second favorite recipe of all time (first place goes to my mom's chicken croquettes, which we had for Christmas dinner). I have zero self control when they're sitting in the fridge... to the point where I get a serving, microwave it, eat it, repeat, repeat, repeat. It's embarrassing but very true.

I got this recipe from my mother in law, who got it from a friend, who I believe originally got it from the Barefoot Contessa. I've changed it a good bit from the version that was sent to me, and in my opinion they're absolute perfection. I make this each year for Thanksgiving to replace mashed potatoes, and they are a delicious upgrade that I suggest you try out for yourself.

Just like the chocolate chip cookies I posted about recently, I made these scalloped potatoes into some recipe art as well.
See how convenient it is to just have it right there? The scalloped potatoes are on bottom so I can read them most easily... because they are my favorite.

As the recipe art suggests, the ingredients are as simple as:

4 large potatoes
2 yellow onions
½ lb grated gruyere
2 cups heavy cream
Salt & pepper

I just noticed that the recipe art calls for half a stick of butter, but I didn't use any butter when I made them, so you could go either way on that. If you did want to add it in, you'd use the butter for the onions in addition to or instead of the olive oil.

First up, I sautéed the onions.

I let them cook on medium-low until they were really soft and caramelized, and had no bite left to them at all.

Next, I used a mandoline to slice the potatoes paper thin. Using a mandoline makes a big difference in the final product. Having thick pieces of potato really detracts from the texture and overall result, so I would definitely suggest going the extra mile and getting the right equipment. Before we got this one for our wedding, I used a really inexpensive version like this that worked very well.

After they were all sliced, I laid a thin layer on the bottom of my baking dish.

Next, I layered the onions and cheese, then repeated until I had nothing left.

Lastly, I poured the cream over top and baked them at 350 for an hour and a half.

Smelling the gruyere while it cooks is pure torture. Once they're all done... it's magic.

This was the first of many, many (many, many, many) slices.

Look at all of those layers!

The other recipe I make for Thanksgiving always makes me feel a little nostalgic. One of my childhood friends' mother used to make this dijon mac & cheese recipe and would bring it to all of the potlucks at school. I lived for those potlucks purely because this dish was so, so good. A few years ago, I stumbled across the crumpled up piece of notebook paper that written the recipe on for me back in elementary school. I've made it countless times since then, and the only things I've changed (I think) is to add more dijon and to not include breadcrumbs. 

This mac & cheese recipe is like... real mac & cheese. Because it's baked, the pasta really absorbs the sauce rather than it being soupy. This is my dad's girlfriend's favorite dish, which meant that when I made it for Thanksgiving, I gave her all of the leftovers :)

One thing I love about this recipe is that all you need is one large pot. I cook the pasta, set it aside, and then use that pot to finish everything out.

The ingredients are:
1 lb cavatappi pasta
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 lb shredded sharp cheddar
4 cups preheated milk
4 tbsp butter
½ cup flour
Salt & pepper

First, I made a roux by melting the butter over medium-low heat, then slowly stirred in the flour.

Next, I slowly added in the milk, stirring constantly.

The mixture will get looser and looser.

The first time I made this recipe, I thought I had done something terribly wrong, because this is what I ended up with:

Rest assured, the fact that it looks like milk soup is exactly the way it should. Stirring constantly over medium heat, I brought the mixture to a simmer. Then, reduced to medium-low and stirred for 10 more minutes.

Next, added in the cheese, dijon, salt, & pepper.

Lastly, stirred in the cavatappi.

I transferred the mixture to a baking dish and cooked it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

For some reason, I like the re-heated version of this recipe best. I think it's because everything really has time to sit together and the sauce thickens a little on the re-heat.

I wish I had taken a picture, but on Thanksgiving day, my plate was ⅓ scalloped potatoes, ⅓ mac & cheese, and ⅓ everything else (turkey, bread, brussels sprouts, etc.). I complained about sweets overload in one of my previous posts, but in my opinion, there is no such thing as carbs overload. 

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes that are a little unconventional?

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