One of the most important holidays in America is Thanksgiving Day, and this Thanksgiving Potatoes and Ham Au Gratin dish is perfect for the occasion.
Also sometimes referred to as “scalloped potatoes”, this is distinctly North American. Some will argue the original recipes for scalloped potatoes came out of Ireland and/or England. However, potatoes are native to America. It follows logically that early European settlers would take advantage of their availability. Regardless of actual region of origin, Thanksgiving Potatoes and Ham au Gratin is, and has been for centuries, an American traditional and beloved dish.
Thanksgiving Potatoes and Ham au Gratin Recipe-
- 2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled, washed and scrubbed clean
- 3 cups diced, good quality, smoked ham (suggest Virginia Hickory Smoked Country Ham, or Smithfield smoked ham)
- 4 tbsp. butter (plus more, for greasing baking dish)
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled, sliced concentrically, slices crosscut in half, and separated into half-rings
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- freshly ground black peppercorns, to taste
- freshly ground coarse sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup grated, good quality asiago cheese (well-aged asiago is best)
- 1 cup medium-sharp, good quality, aged cheddar cheese
- olive oil, for frying (not extra-virgin! You do not want too strong of an olive flavor for this dish)
- chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and butter, and sauté, stirring, until the onions are softening and fragrant – about 3 to 4 minutes should do it.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir it all together. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the flour/onion mixture turns a rich, golden brown.
- Add and stir in the sour cream, milk, and the half-and-half, whisk and blend together thoroughly. Keep cooking, stirring, until the mixture thickens – about 3 to 4 minutes should do it.
- Now season with the salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well, reduce the heat to low, and keep warm.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the potatoes very thin – about 1/8″ thick is ideal. Put the slices into a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once a vigorous, rolling boil is achieved, cut off the heat. Wait just two minutes, then drain in a colander and douse the potatoes with cold water. This “par-boiling” will cook the slices just enough that when the dish is finished baking they will be fully cooked and soft.
- Liberally grease a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
- Now mix the ham and potatoes together well in a large bowl and, in another bowl, mix together the two cheeses.
- Layer one half of the potato/ham mixture on the bottom of the buttered baking dish.
- Next, sprinkle on half of the combined cheeses all over the potatoes/ham layer, and then pour on half the sauce from the skillet. Spread the sauce evenly over the surface.
- Repeat this procedure with the rest of the ingredients, with a layer of cheese and sauce being on the very top. Sprinkle extra pepper on top, and maybe a little more salt – the salt is up to your personal tastes, but the pepper is a must.
- Cover the baking dish with either its own lid, or you can use tin foil, place it in the oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, remove the covering and bake some more – anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. You want the surface to be a nice golden brown and the sauce bubbling.
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro (if using, as a garnish) and serve your Thanksgiving potatoes and ham au gratin while still nice and hot.
Note: This recipe is taken from our Classic All-American Side Dishes pages.
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