Smoky Scalloped Potatoes with Ham is pure comfort food! It’s also a perfect recipe for your holiday ham leftovers. I’ve upped the flavor with a little garlic and smoked Fontina cheese too.
I made a ham for New Year’s Eve this year, and of course had lots of leftovers. That’s the thing about making a spiral ham, they are so delicious, but only come in two sizes – large and extra large. The first thing that came to mind for using the leftovers was smoky scalloped potatoes with ham! My Mom used to make scalloped potatoes when we were kids, and I always loved them. She didn’t write the recipe down, but the idea is pretty basic. Thinly sliced potatoes baked in a cream sauce until tender. I thought adding some smoked ham, garlic and cheese to the recipe would make a delicious, hearty winter casserole. There is something about colder weather that makes you crave a dish like this!
Some people might call these au gratin potatoes, and the difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes is very slight. Scalloped potatoes refers to the fact that they are cooked in the milk sauce and sliced very thinly. For au gratin potatoes the potatoes are normally cubed and then the dish is topped with cheese or bread crumbs. I did use a little cheese in this recipe, but the potatoes are sliced thinly……. so you could call this a hybrid dish!
Ham freezes beautifully, so after New Year’s, I wrapped up the leftovers and froze them until I felt like cooking again. You can use any kind of fully cooked ham you have though, you don’t have to wait until you cook a whole ham! Or leave the ham out, it will still be delicious.
For the potatoes you’ll want to use the classic russet baking potatoes. The consistency is perfect for scalloped potatoes. They will become tender, but won’t disintegrate. Besides the ham and potatoes, you’ll need some butter, flour, garlic, milk, cheese and chives.
Slicing the potatoes and cooking them in the milk sauce makes these “scalloped”. When you slice the potatoes, make them thin. I sliced them by hand, because I had my knife in my hand and was too lazy to get out any other tools, but you could also use a mandolin or a food processor for more consistent results.
Now that the potatoes are ready, you’ll need a nice, simple cream sauce to hold them together.
The cream sauce is also vital to making your potatoes scalloped, which is the ultimate goal here. It’s a quick and easy sauce, melt some butter, sauté a little garlic, sprinkle on some flour, then whisk in some milk – voila! You have a cream sauce.
Potatoes – check! Cream sauce – check! Next, cube the ham, mince the garlic and shred the cheese! That’s it. Now you can start to layer your casserole.
Start with the potatoes. Put half in the bottom of your dish, then top with half the ham, cheese and cream sauce.
Make another layer with the rest of the ingredients and bake for an hour or so, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is thickened. You’ll want to cover the pan with foil for about 45 minutes to keep the heat in and help those potatoes to cook. After that, take off the tin foil and let that top start to brown.
The casserole pan doesn’t look beautiful on the inside, but that is where all of that delicious cream sauce was bubbling away for an hour! Focus on how delicious it will taste.
If you want the top to get even more browned, sprinkle some extra cheese on top after you remove the foil. I know that is veering into “au gratin” territory, but I won’t tell anyone. Now sprinkle on some chives. They add a mild onion flavor to compliment the rich smoky scalloped potatoes, and they look pretty!
If you let the scalloped potatoes cool and set for 15 to 30 minutes, you’ll be able to cut out nice squares for serving. I wanted these potatoes to have the consistency of a lasagna, more that being “soupy”. If you like a more soupy consistency, you can make extra cream sauce for layering.
Smoky scalloped potatoes with ham is great served with an arugula or green salad with vinaigrette to counteract the richness.
- 3 thinly sliced, large russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups milk, I used 2%
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1½ cups smoked, shredded Fontina cheese
- 2-3 cups cubed or sliced fully cooked smoked ham
- chives for sprinkling on top (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray, or rub with butter.
- Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. I used a knife to slice the potatoes, but you could also use a mandolin or a food processor.
- Make the cream sauce: melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, don't let the garlic brown. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and garlic and stir to combine. Slowly add the milk while whisking and keep whisking until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper.
- Layer half the potatoes in the prepared pan. Top with half of the ham, cheese and cream sauce. Make a second layer.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-30 minutes until the top is slightly browned, the potatoes are tender and the cream sauce has thickened.
- Let cool for 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chives, if desired, then cut into squares and dig in!