Monday, October 31, 2011

OMG Potatoes!

Yes. They are that good.

Recently I bought a big bag of potatoes, and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them. I browsed through some cook books, and at first I thought twice baked potatoes, or mashed potatoes... but then I remembered one of my favorite dishes that I haven't had in quite a while! Cheesy potatoes au gratin! My mom makes this dish with ham in it, so I thought I would make a tiny version of this yummy cheesy dish! It took me about an hour to make this, and it is completely worth every minute (I'm eating one of these as I'm typing, and its SO good!) The ham caramelizes around the cheesy potatoes, and the panko bread crumbs on top almost remind me of home made mac and cheese! What could be better? Makes about 20 cheesy cups of goodness.

6 medium sized baking potatoes
2 packages of sliced deli honey ham
4 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 cups whole milk 
2 cloves of garlic (chopped or crushed)
1 TBS flour
Panko Bread crumbs
Non Stick Spray

First start by cleaning your potatoes. I find when I buy them in a bag they are still pretty dirty. You can wash them with warm water and a washcloth to get all the crud off. 
Then peel your potatoes. I like to take my cutting board over my sink with all of my potatoes on it, then put an empty 'garbage' bowl in the sink to put all my scraps in that I will throw away later. Seriously helps with keeping things clean. 
Once all of your potatoes are peeled, slice them into thin slices, the thinner the slice, the less cook time it will take, but don't get too crazy that your struggling to not slice your finger off... not worth a lost digit. Once you have them sliced into thin potato chip like slices, chop them into little pieces. Mine ended up being around 1/2" x 1/2" I was pretty sloppy about it, and didn't really worry about keeping it consistent, if you have killer knife skills, please, have at it!
 I sprayed my cupcake pan with non stick spray then took individual slices of lunch meat ham in each cup. The recipe makes about 20 cheesy cups, so you don't have to do two full trays worth. 
 Take the rest of the ham and chop it up into about the same size pieces as your potatoes. Mix the potatoes and the ham together and fill each cup. You can pack the potatoes in pretty well, just fill them all the way to the top of the cup. You can see in the picture here (click on it to make it larger) that my potato sizes are all over the place.
Next take your butter and garlic and melt them together in a medium sized pot. I used frozen crushed garlic. I love this stuff. You keep it in your freezer, and each block is about 1 clove of garlic. (They make it in other herbs as well, so if you don't have the fresh stuff on hand, its just right in your freezer not taking up much space at all! Oh, and they stack!) 

 Melt the two together, and using a whisk, cook on medium heat for about two minutes. Don't judge my scratched up pan, a dumb guy I used to date used forks on my non stick pans... Needless to say we didn't date for long. Hehe.
Once they are melted and happy together, and smelling delicious, add 1 TBS of flour and whisk your little heart away until they are mixed completely together and bubbly.
Add your milk, and two cups of cheddar cheese. Turn your heat to low, and keep whisking until it is one yummy cheesy sauce. This is the time to add salt & pepper to taste. Make sure you taste it, its quite delicious!
Now that your sauce is done, ladle it over each cup, and fill it to the top. You may have to use a kitchen knife to poke the air out of each cup, allowing it to fill completely. Tuck the edges of the ham into the cup.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Here is what it looks like after 25 minutes. 
 At this point, take them out of the oven, and divide up the remaining two cups of cheddar cheese on top of each cup. Top with panko bread crumbs.
Pop them back in the oven for 15 minutes, and presto! Delicious cheesy ham and potato cups of heaven! Use a kitchen knife to glide around each cup to remove it from the pan. You can eat them as soon as they are cool enough that they won't torch your tongue, or pop them in the fridge for an hour before pulling them all out to freeze.
These are pretty darn easy to make, and ridiculously tasty. Seriously. I ate three.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!
cupcake bettie