Could there be anything more comforting than potatoes?  Well, yes!  How about potatoes with Half & Half and cheese?  What do you think about that?  I think it’s time to pull out a mandoline and make some scalloped potatoes.  I’ll admit, the last time I have made scalloped potatoes was at the Culinary Institute, but I’m willing and ready to give it another try! I took inspiration from Tyler Florence’s recipe and got cooking.

So, happy New Year, have a delicious, healthy and abundant 2011, and enjoy this first dish of the year.

Extra Sharp Tillamook Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes with Garlic and Thyme

4 garlic cloves, grated on microplane
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups Half & Half
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or butter
8 Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices (I used a mandoline, I recommend you do the same.  Once sliced, avoid putting potatoes back into water – you want to keep the starch on them to thicken up the cream while baking later on)
salt and pepper
8 ounces Extra Sharp Tillamook Cheddar, grated (avoid buying grated cheese, it is more expensive and has a coating on the cheese to prevent it from sticking, which also inhibits even melting)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Place garlic and thyme in a small sauce pot, cover with half & half and bring to a light simmer.

3.  Oil or butter a baking dish.  Layer one third of potatoes on the bottom of the dish, overlapping slightly. Season with salt and pepper.  Cover with 1/3 of half & half mixture and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.

4.  Repeat layering two more times.  Here’s a bit of a hint – nobody will see the middle layer, but they will see the top – so save the larger slices of potatoes for the top, and use the smaller or uneven slices in the middle.

5.  Bake uncovered for 60-90 minutes.  Switch to broil, if necessary the last few minutes to brown the cheese (Mine got brown and bubbly all on its own!).
6.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes to settle, cut and enjoy.  Perhaps with a salad, so you feel better about all the cream and starch you’re consuming 🙂