Happy birthday to both H.G. and Kº!
What am I most thankful for this year? Well that’s easy. This week I crashed through the 5000-follower mark here at Ali Does It. And that’s just WordPress followers, mind you: that statistic doesn’t include those of you who have bookmarked the page or signed up for email or RSS updates. Five thousand plus, then. And I’m thankful for each and every one of you. My goal in starting Ali Does It was to show people that doing things like baking a layer cake or fixing a toilet are not too hard to do by yourself (or with some help!), and that everyone makes mistakes. It’s all a learning process. So. Thanks for being there with me while I do this learning thing.
Here’s a nice warm and cozy side dish we cooked up for an early potluck Thanksgiving with the Pie’s extended family. It’s a perfect accompaniment to a less-formal celebration, and a welcome addition to any potluck occasion. Shall we get started?
Preheat your oven to 375°F and spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (we doubled our recipe and used two oval casseroles instead, but the principle is the same).
Let’s do the vegetable prep first, okay? Start with 4 large yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold), and give them a scrub. Leave the skins on, and slice them up really thin. We find that the mandolin actually makes the potatoes a little too thin, so we prefer to slice them by hand. And my genius of a husband showed me a cool trick to cutting round objects in thin slices. It’s much easier to slice them when you can hold them by the large middle part, so start on one side and cut towards the centre, like so:
Then turn the potato around and start again from the other end. This way you’re not left fumbling with the tiny end bits and a very sharp knife. Brilliant.
Give the potato slices a good soak for about ten minutes while you do other stuff, just to get rid of all the excess starch.
While you’re waiting, grab a hefty handful of chives and chop them up, too.
Like, a LOT of chives.
And dice up an onion as well. Set that aside for now. It’s going to be in your sauce. As is the 2 ¼ cups cheese you’re going to shred. We used a combination of Monterey jack and orange cheddar.
Drain and rinse your potatoes and then start laying them out in single layers in your baking dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper and some chives over each layer and keep going until you’ve run out of potatoes.
In a medium-sized pot, melt ¼ cup butter and chuck in your diced onion. Cook that, stirring, for a few minutes until the onions are soft.
Stir in 2 tablespoons flour, then add 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 cups whole milk. Keep stirring that over medium heat until it becomes bubbly and starts to thicken.
When the sauce is thick, add in 2 cups cheese (save ¼ cup for sprinkling on top) and keep stirring that around until it’s all melted and incorporated into the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the potatoes.
You will likely need to pour about half the sauce, then stop and shake the pan from side to side and around and around to get the sauce to fill in all the little holes. You see all these holes? Then you can use the rest of the sauce.
Sprinkle the rest of your cheese and chives on top.
Chuck that in the oven and bake for 60 minutes, until the top is brown and crusty and everything is bubbling throughout, even in the centre. Enjoy!