Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I'm going to keep things pretty short this week, because I am with my family at a chalet at Big White, and in the eyes of my niece and nephew, I am taking away valuable chase-me, come-find me, and I'll drop all of the crayons on the floor and you pick them up time.

Last Friday night I had everything packed for the trip, a batch of gooey chocolate rolls for snacking, the house all clean and organized, and then I went to get my passport from the passport spot (in a folder, in a box, in the closet). I found Brent's passport, my passports from 2014, 2009, 2004, and 1999 (I keep for nostalgic reasons), but couldn't find my current passport. I tore the house apart. I called Brent at work and he rushed home where he found me on the floor in a puddle of my own tears, worried that I had ruined the trip. And then he reminded me that there was no way that I could be denied entry back into Canada because I am Canadian. Of course. I was then able to focus on the task at hand which was - find my passport. We searched in every nook and cranny. I called the Toronto airport, I called the Seattle airport, customs, the cab company from when I last remember having it. Nowhere, no one, my passport has gone forever. And then, 5 hours later, I hear Brent call out from the other room, with his new found power, the fact that he found my passport, in the scanner.

I owe him forever. I'll probably have to make him these cheesy scalloped potatoes every time he asks because he says that they are now his favorite food. Potatoes, cheese, hot peppers, spices, butter, gah. Pure deliciousness. You know, in the dead of winter when you're really feeling like a bright crisp salad with raspberries and goat cheese and sunshine and margaritas, and then you realize that it's still cold outside, there's snow on the ground, and that you should really start living in the moment. Cheesy comfort food is the way to go, and we can only get away with eating these foods a few months out of the year, so might as well take advantage of that fact.

I used a combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey jack cheese for these potatoes. Half of the cheese I made into a sauce with butter, milk, and spices. The rest I sprinkled on top, and then set the oven to broil in the last 5 minutes of baking to give the cheese that magical flavor. I used a few Mama Lil's Pickled Goathorn Peppers, which are the best peppers I have ever tasted. They add an amazing tang to compliment the creamy cheesiness. This dish can be served as a side with some greens on the side, or on its own with a glass of pinot or a nice frosty lager.



makes 1 - 9 x 11 inch dish

serves 8

5 large russet potatoes

5 tbsp unsalted butter

5 tbsp all purpose flour

3 cups 2% milk

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp chili flakes

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp hot sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

10 pickled hot pepper slices

Scrub the potatoes with cold water. Slice them thinly with a mandoline. Place the potato slices into a large bowl filled with cold water. Set to the side.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a medium saucepan heat the butter on low heat until bubbly. Add the flour and stir with a wire whisk. Heat for one minute.

Whisk in the milk, salt, chili flakes, paprika, and hot sauce. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until it has thickened to the consistency of gravy. Stir in 1 cup of cheddar, and 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese. Remove from the heat.

Drain the potatoes. Butter a 9 x 11 inch baking dish. Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom followed by half of the cheese sauce. Scatter the hot peppers on top. Finish with the rest of the potatoes, the rest of the cheese sauce, and top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for 70 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, and broil the top until brown and crispy, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm. May be kept in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 3 - 4 months.