Ham and Potato Scallop

A scallop of potatoes layered with ham is a very good way to use up ham leftover from a buffet. This is a tricky proposition. Ham is expensive grocery real estate. You certainly don’t want to throw any of it away. However, ham is one of those things that sits out on your buffet. There will be bits and pieces that have been passed on and touched. There are things in life that we can choose to not face head on.  So we will choose an application that will result in the thorough cooking of these leftovers.

Scalloped potatoes are one of those things that sound simple, but aren’t.  I know, I know your great grandmother threw casseroles of potatoes layered with flour and milk and they were a thrifty family favorite. Your grandmother had two advantages that you do not have.  1-She was feeding genuinely hungry  people who didn’t know any better. And-2- even more importantly, they  didn’t have cameras on their cell phones. A simply tossed together “scallop” of potatoes will consist of dull greying potatoes slices afloat in a grainy amniotic fluid.  We are going to avoid these pitfalls.

For this application you will need large potatoes, preferably pf the russet persuasion. Time for some brutal honesty, by the time these potatoes are cooked in milk and coated in cheese and pork, they have ceased to be a   vegetable they have moved into a nether state, where they exist as soothing ballast.  They won’t retain enough vitamins to dust a fiddle with anyway. The peels must therefore go. I am sorry, I try very hard to be peel friendly… just won’t fly this time.  I’d go with 1 large potato per person, plus an extra one, per  five guests. (So if you are serving five you need six spuds, if you are serving ten you need twelve). Slice them thinly and put into a an oven safe pot.  Pour whole milk over them, liberally salt and pepper and simmer until no traces of resistance remain. Individuality has its  place in a free society, but scalloped potatoes is not that place. Undercooked potatoes are a scourge.  When soft, remove some potato slices to your prepared casserole(by which i mean thoroughly sprayed with cooking spray), layer with finely chopped slivers of ham- continue – layer, potatoes, ham and grated cheddar(I’d go for a sharp white, myself)  Repeat until your pan is full, or until you are sadly out of potatoes.  Pour in some of the milk you boiled the taters in- almost to the surface, and cheese lavishly.  Hot oven- *375 for 30 minutes. Warm, cozy and showcases the flavor of good ham.

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