Cooking On A Budget: Ham and Scalloped Potato Casserole

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ham and Scalloped Potato Casserole


I am using up ingredients I already have in my refrigerator and pantry to make these creamy Ham and Scalloped Potatoes for dinner. That's what cooking on a budget is all about; making use of what you already have available to provide a good meal for your family.

As a child I was never fond of ham and scalloped potatoes. When mom cooked her New England boiled ham dinner or made a baked ham, I preferred the soup that usually followed which was either Split Pea with Ham or Lentil Soup with Ham. Scalloped potatoes, well not so much. But she made sure to use every scrap of that ham and if there was enough meat on the bone for soup and extra ham I knew what dish was coming next.

Now that I am older and my palette has changed I like ham and cheese together so this dish is somewhat like mom's but I am leaving out one ingredient on purpose because that could have been the reason I did not care for it. Mom put lots of onion in her version. Don't get me wrong, I love onions but I think I want to leave them out of this dish as the creamy cheese sauce is going to be the star.

The sauce is stupendous. I tasted it raw and along with a creamy consistency you get a nice background flavor from the mustard. A combination of the half and half and heavy cream helps to mellow out the Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese I used while not masking its' flavor totally.
  • left over ham - sliced thin
  • 1-2 large potatoes - sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper (Black is okay to use instead.)
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • cooking spray
  1. I am all about easy clean up so spray some non stick spray into your baking dish. My baking dish is 9 1/2 x 6 1/4 x 2 inches deep. Two large potatoes were more than enough.
  2. Slice your ham and set aside.
  3. At this point preheat your oven to 350° (or a toaster oven)
  4. Make the cheese sauce. First make a roux by melting the butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium low and add in the flour. Keep stirring for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
  5. Next, slowly pour in the half and half and heavy cream and keep whisking until fully incorporated.
  6. Then add in the white pepper, ground mustard and salt. Give a stir.
  7. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the cheese and keep whisking until fully incorporated. The heat can be turned off and let this sit.
  8. Next, wash the outside of your potatoes under cold water removing any dirt. You can peel the potato or leave on the skin. I left the skin on. Using the blade attachment of your food processor, a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice your potatoes about 1/4 inch thick or a little less.
  9. Now you can begin layering the casserole. First a layer of potatoes, some ham slices throughout and some cheese sauce spread over the ham. Use the back of the ladle to spread the sauce. Do the next layer and continue layering ending with potatoes as the top layer. Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top.
  10. Bake covered in a preheated 350° oven for about an hour. Test to see if the potatoes are done by inserting a knife in layers. If they are not done, continue baking for 10-15 minute intervals until they are. Due to my slicing the potatoes thinly this took an hour to bake. Then I removed the foil and baked another 10-15 minutes to brown the top more.
Note: When the potatoes are cooked and the sauce is bubbling but you want more browning on the top, take the foil off and brown in the oven under the broiler (being watchful) or keep in the oven for a while longer under regular heat as I did. Mine I baked in my toaster oven.

The fact that you are using left over ham makes this dish inexpensive. It costs approximately $4.26 and feeds four people. Add in baby frozen peas as the vegetable an on sale price of $1.67 for a whole bag. This makes a really inexpensive meal. Consider putting this together over the weekend and refrigerate and pull it out during the week to bake it. In fact, make my Slow Cooker New England Ham on a Friday to have for supper that night, make some soup with the ham bone and use the ham to make the Ham and Scalloped potatoes for a night during the following week. For a good soup try my Split Pea Soup with Ham.
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