Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Bacon
ALERT!!! If you do not like cheese and bacon, the following recipe is NOT for you. If you do, then go ahead and get excited. This is one of those special occasion kind of recipes - like Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving, Easter, paired with a nice roast for company or the single girl trying to win a husband :). I say special occasion not because this is difficult to make (though they do have a long baking time), but it's just that rich and decadent.
My special occasion was a big family dinner we did with extended family at my parent's lake house. I served this as one of the sides to grilled filets and ribeye steaks. There's just something about meat and potatoes, right?
I knew right off the bat when planning this meal that I wanted to do one potato side. The fact that I'd be feeding a big group helped me narrow my choices down to recipes that could be prepped ahead of time and then just popped in the oven. I considered making a hash brown casserole that my Mama makes that is pretty dynamite, but many of our family members had had that before and I wanted to do something new. I came across this scalloped potato recipe and right away I knew I'd be making this.
These aren't your run of the mill scalloped potatoes. Of course you have the potatoes and cheese. But there are several types of cheese. And crispy bacon that helps flavor the onions that become deliciously tender and soft after almost 2 hours of baking. Both the onion and half & half give the potatoes just the slightest bit of sweetness that is offset so perfectly against the garlic and woodsiness of the thyme.
The potatoes were the perfect tenderness and while the cheese throughout the potato layers was gooey, the top cheese got golden and crispy in most places. Who doesn't love that crispy cheese?!
I was really pleased with how this turned out and so were our guests as evidenced by the devoured potatoes!
A few notes:
- Cutting the potatoes the same thickness is key to even cooking. I suggest using a mandolin.
- If I had to do over, I would add a little bit of nutmeg and crushed red pepper. That's just a personal preference, but next time I make these I will include them in each potato layer.
- I switched the cheese up a little, using 1/2 lb of Swiss and 1/2 lb of Monterey Jack instead of the 1 lb of Swiss called for in the recipe. I think Swiss & Gruyere would also be a delicious combo, or you can just stick with the straight Swiss.
- Don't skimp on the salt. Potatoes need salt. Enough said.
- I also went a little heavy handed on the garlic powder and thyme. I would recommend doing the same.
- The onions are listed as optional, I think they are a must!
- I assembled this about 10 hours before baking. While the oven was preheating, I simply pulled this out of the fridge.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Bacon
3 to 4 pounds potatoes thinly sliced (around an eighth of an inch thick). I like using red potatoes with the skins on. You can also use Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes (peel the skins if using Russets).
1 sweet onion thinly sliced (optional).
1 pound shredded Swiss cheese.
6 ounce shredded Parmesan cheese.
5 strips of bacon chopped and fried crispy (save the leftover bacon fat to help grease the baking dish).
1 quart half-and-half
½ stick of butter
1 tablespoon of garlic powder.
1 tablespoon of fresh or dried thyme.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Grease large baking dish with bacon fat and a quarter stick of butter.
Line bottom of dish with around a third of the sliced potatoes. Make sure they have plenty of overlap.
Salt and pepper the sliced potatoes and season with a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add a layer of thinly sliced onions (optional).
Cover with a third of the Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle half the bacon and 1½ teaspoons of the thyme on top.
Repeat with another layer of potatoes fixed up the same way as the first layer.
Now, finish it off with a layer of potatoes on top.
Pour half-and-half into the dish until the potatoes are almost covered.
Season the top potatoes with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Cut the leftover quarter stick of butter into small cubes and dot over the top of the potatoes.
Bake covered in an preheated oven or grill at 350ºF for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove from oven and uncover. Add the rest of the Swiss and Parmesan cheese on top of the potatoes a bake uncovered for another 30 to 45 minutes (or until tender).
Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.