A Rich, Creamy, "Set and Forget" Side Dish
If you've ever had scalloped potatoes boil over in your oven, that smell of burned-on cream – and the memory of how hard it was to clean – will stay with you for a while. Making them in your Crock-Pot instead means you'll never have that experience again, and it's much more convenient as well: Just load up your slow cooker and ignore the potatoes for hours while you get on with the rest of your day. It's especially helpful at holiday time, when you've got a ton of other things to do and there's never enough oven space.
Total Time: Up to 8 hours, 30 minutes | Prep Time: 10 to 30 minutes | Serves: 8 to 10
- 3 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons flour, ideally "instant" or "gravy" flour such as Wondra
- 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon each granulated onion and granulated garlic (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Peel and rinse the potatoes. With a sharp knife or mandoline slicer, cut them evenly into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl of cold water as you slice them, to keep them from browning as you work.
- In a microwaveable bowl or measuring cup, heat the cream for 2 to 3 minutes, until it steams but doesn't bubble. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk into the flour until it's thoroughly incorporated. Pour the milk mixture into the hot cream, and whisk in the seasonings.
- Spray the inside of a 6-quart Crock-Pot's liner with nonstick spray, or line it with a Crock-Pot liner bag. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes neatly on the bottom of the crock, and then pour in 1/3 of the cream mixture. Repeat, until you've used up all the potatoes and the cream. Some of the potatoes won't be covered by the cream, but that's all right.
- Cover the Crock-Pot. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on the high setting,or 6 to 8 hours on the low setting, whichever fits better with your plans for the day. Don't lift the lid to check the potatoes' progress until near the end of the cooking time; letting the heat out of your slow cooker can extend your cooking time dramatically.
- When the potatoes are tender and the creamy sauce is thick, change the setting to "keep warm" and leave the slow cooker covered until it's time to serve the meal.
- Add 1 to 2 cups of diced ham to the scalloped potatoes, or leave a ham steak on top of the potatoes to simmer while they cook.
- Layer 1 to 3 cups of shredded cheese into the potatoes. Mild cheeses complement the dish's creaminess, while sharp cheeses add more flavor.
- For an easy, preseasoned sauce, omit the milk, flour and seasonings and use a can of creamed soup—cream of mushroom, or cream of celery—instead.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
- Russet potatoes will release more starch and make a heartier scallop, and Yukon Golds will hold their texture better and give you lighter sauce. Both are good.
- The more uniform your slices, the more evenly the potatoes will cook. If you have a mandoline slicer gathering dust in your cupboard or a slicing disc for your food processor, this is the time to use it. The shorter prep time given for this recipe assumes a mandoline; the longer assumes a knife. You can estimate your own prep time based on your knife skills.
- The cooking time can vary, depending on your individual slow cooker and how thickly you've cut the potatoes. Starting the dish at least an hour early, when possible, buys you some margin for error.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.