CHEESY POTATOES, AKA PARMESAN POTATOES…….A DELICIOUS VERSION OF SCALLOPED POTATOES
For about 15 years we have taken our family vacation to beautiful Carlsbad, California at a place called Pacific Palisades. What used to be 14 of us has now expanded to 16 with a couple of very welcome additions. We have traditional places where we have to go each year. Pizza Port, Gregorios, Vigilucci’s, Tip Top Meats, Jake’s and of course, Costco, since we are all cooks and try to outdo each other with great Happy Hours. One of our favorites, Fish House Vera Cruz, was a regular but it closed a couple of years ago (one still remains in nearby San Marcos). They make a really nice cheesy scalloped potato side dish which I have always loved, but somehow not quite enough to seek out the recipe. (I did get their Ceviche clam cocktail, though, which I have posted in this blog in the Appetizers section). But, I digress. The restaurant that replaced Vera Cruz is called Blue Water Grill, and has quickly become our new favorite. They have a similar dish to the Vera Cruz cheesy dish that they just call Scalloped Potatoes. This one is just a couple of cuts above the other one. Less cheese and more creamy and buttery. They serve them hot and bubbly on your plate, and they are the perfect accompaniment for grilled fish.
The main reason I am blogging this is to give you some advice. If you have a favorite dish at a restaurant, ask the chef for the recipe! The worst that can happen is let you know to always try to get a recipe from chefs! The worst that can happen is they’ll say no. (and oh, BTW, I have persisted before and gotten recipes in bits ad pieces, pretty well putting them together. (Like the Caesar Dressing at Outback Steakhouse). I even got a Grapefruit vinaigrette from a Casino! The chef came out and talked to me. He was young, and no one had ever asked him before, so he was excited too!
So here’s what happens sometimes when you get a recipe. Being up for a challenge, I took this home and made my own version. The buttery, cheesy essence was there! Here’s what I did:
4 large potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
1 stick butter
1 small finely chopped onion and garlic to taste
1 cup chicken broth (I make my own with soup base) Smart and Final sells a good Vegetable soup base
1 cup grated parmesan
Topping: (optional, but here is mine)
1 to 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 stick butter
Melt butter and toss Panko in until light brown. Add 1/2 cup parmesan or an Italian cheese blend.
Boil potatoes until they are still a little firm to make slicing easier. Slice them into a large bowl (You can also layer them, but I always find tossing everything together and then adding to the baking dish really coats everything better)
Now make the sauce: I started with melting a stick of butter in the pan above. Add 1 small finely chopped onion and 2 tsp. minced garlic. Saute till onion is soft. My sauce was very much like a Bechamel, which is super simple: 1/2 cup flour stirred into 1/2 cup melted butter. As soon and It becomes a thick paste, Add 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth. Simmer till it bubbles, then add 2 cups heavy cream. Bring to a slow simmer and add one cup grated parmesan cheese. Melt cheese, then add to potatoes, toss completely and put in baking pan. At this point you can add a topping if you want. Crushed corn flakes tossed in melted butter is a nice one. But I love Panko Breadcrumbs, so I did one cup of them, lightly browned in melted butter. Then added parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 about one hour, or till brown and bubbly. Here they are:
Here they are! DEELISH…ask me how I know!