Robert Earl Keen’s classic Christmas song “Merry Christmas from the Family” (sometimes styled “Merry Christmas from the Fam-O-Lee”) features several food mentions. Champagne punch, eggnog, margaritas, bloody marys, and turkey are all mentioned outright. While the song doesn’t mention scalloped potatoes, this is my all time favorite potato recipe, and you can’t have a giant smoked turkey without having a potato dish. This Feliz Navidad Scallpoped Potato recipe is part of a series of REK-inspired recipes for your next Christmas party!
Scalloped potatoes happen to be my favorite preparation of potato. Sure, mashed potato gets a lot of hype, and it’s tough to beat a good french fry, but I love scalloped potatoes. They look much fancier than they are, and they are incredibly easy to make but also can make you look like a more impressive cook than you are. This recipe is, as the theme has been lately, Texas-style, meaning it includes some heat. If you’re not one for heat, just leave out the peppers and cayenne in the recipe and they will still be cheesy, gooey goodness.
What You’ll Need:
3-3 1/2 pounds of potatoes.*
Shredded four cheese mix (I eyeball this but if I had to guess I would say it’s about 6 cups)
8 slices of applewood bacon, cooked and diced small
6 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 jalapeño peppers, diced small
2 serrano peppers, diced small
2 pimento peppers, diced small
2 tablespoons of black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons of onion flake or onion powder
2 teaspoons of cayenne powder
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Fresh chives for garnish
A mandoline slicer makes quick work of the potatoes. You’ll also need a greased 9×13 baking pan, preferably glass or ceramic.
*I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes, but russets and even red potatoes work well, too.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and place oven rack in middle of oven.
- Using a mandoline slicer or a sharp chef’s knife, slice the potatoes into medallions approximately 1/8 of an inch thick, set aside.
- Mix black pepper, onion flake, cayenne, paprika, and salt and set aside.
- Mix all of the diced peppers together and set aside.
- Make a roux: in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat melt the butter. When the butter has completely melted but BEFORE it begins to brown, add the flour and whisk softly but consistently until the flour and butter combine to make a thin, off-white liquid. Allow the butter and flour has bubbled for about one minute, slowly pour in the milk in increments, whisking vigorously each time.
- Once all the milk is added and the roux is well combined, the sauce should resemble thick, off-colored cream. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Add the pepper/onion/cayenne/salt/paprika mixture and blend well.
- Add 3/4 of the cheese in increments until melted completely and has the viscosity of queso.
- Add the jalapeños, serranos, and pimentos to the sauce and stir well to blend.
- In a greased 9×13 baking pan, put one layer of potato medallions down so that they touch and overlap slightly. Add about 1/3 of the bacon and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat to get a total of three layers of potatoes with the top layer being covered in bacon and sauce.
- Cover the top with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, until the top cheese is browned and the potatoes are tender, approximately 50 minutes.
- If the top cheese has browned but the potatoes are not tender, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and reduce oven heat to 350°F and continue baking.
- Once the potatoes are tender, let rest 10 minutes and garnish with freshly chopped chives.
To serve, cut into squares as you would a cake. Pro tip: since these are already not exactly healthy, go ahead and throw some sour cream and hot sauce on top to complete the experience. Goes especially well with LITERALLY EVERYTHING.