Which is it, scalloped or au gratin potatoes? Do you know the difference? I was recently asked the difference and totally drew a blank…what is the difference. Hence, this post. Now, we will all know the difference.
Both dishes obviously are potato creations and we all love our potatoes right. But, what’s the real difference? Each dish consists of sliced potatoes, sauce and bread crumbs right? – WRONG! While each dish may seem to be the same on the outside – they are VERY different on the inside. What’s the big difference…cheese…it always makes a difference. Now back to our main question…
Are all potatoes created the same? What is the best potato to use when making scalloped or au gratin potatoes? There’s so many choices – how do we choose (insert hands on head in a moment of dumbfoundness)? While there are lots of varieties of potatoes, you want to choose what would be considered a “waxy” potato for this type of dish. Such as a red potato or a Yukon gold potato, they have a smoother texture as opposed to the grainy texture of a russet potato. You want a heavier potato that will hold up to all of the cream and butter, a russet will crumble and fall apart.
Classic Au Gratin Potatoes
The classic recipe for creamy potatoes au gratin, calls for peeled potatoes combined with heavy cream, milk, flour, garlic, butter, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, plus a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley for garnish. Create interesting variations on the side dish by varying the cheese used, adding bacon or ranch seasoning.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 5 cups thinly sliced peeled Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 medium)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
- Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from heat; slowly stir in cheese until melted.
- Layer 1/3 of the potatoes and onions in baking dish cover with cheese sauce.
- Repeat until all potatoes and onions have been used and cheese sauce is the last layer (2 more layer).
- Top with bread crumbs if using.
- Cover and bake 1 hour. Uncover; bake 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Slowly add cheese to hot milk stirring smoothly as cheese has a tendency to "seize" making for a clumpy, gritty looking sauce. If this does happen, you can puree in a blender or use a stick blender to smooth out the sauce.
Classic Scalloped Potatoes
This classic recipes calls for sliced potatoes with butter, heavy cream, whole milk and a bit of grated nutmeg, plus salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle buttered breadcrumbs on the top before baking. Create interesting variation of this dish by adding bell pepper, ham, or that ranch seasoning we all enjoy.
- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 9 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
- 6 tablespoons butter, diced and divided
- 3 cups whole milk heated, or as needed
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (optional)
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Spread about 1/3 of the potato slices into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with about 1/3 of the onion slices. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons flour over the potato and onion. Arrange 2 tablespoons butter atop the flour. Season the entire layer with salt and pepper.
- Repeat layering twice more.
- Heat milk in a saucepan until warm. Pour enough warm milk over the mixture in the baking dish so the top of the liquid is level with the final layer of potatoes.
- Top with bread crumbs or cracker crumbs.
- Bake in preheated oven until potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Heating the milk before pouring over potatoes makes a much better sauce.
So, now you know…which is it, scalloped or au gratin… Me, I just like potatoes, all potatoes, I’m not picky.
Now, go bake something!