The Easter Sunday meal most notably includes a delicious ham with a heaping scoop of scalloped potatoes on the side. Or is it au gratin potatoes? Both of these rich, creamy dishes consist of round thinly sliced potatoes layered in a casserole dish. It's no surprise they often get confused for one another.
Scalloped potatoes are baked in a cream sauce, which is generally a roux made of milk or heavy cream, flour and butter. Garlic, onions and fresh herbs may be added to heighten the flavors. Au gratin potatoes, on the other hand, are still made with the same cream sauce, but they have grated cheese sprinkled among the layers of potatoes. Some versions will also have breadcrumbs on top.
As such, anything made with a cream sauce and cheese is probably not going to scream healthy. However, using non-fat milk instead of heavy cream or whole milk, omitting the cheese and cutting back on the salt are easy modifications that can lower the calories, sodium and saturated fats. While you can buy the boxed versions, they are loaded in sodium and other preservatives.
Since there are no police trolling the internet and enforcing the proper classification of this classic casserole, some scalloped potatoes will call for cheese and others will not. In my family, we just make a rendition of the au gratin potatoes, call it hash brown casserole, and scrape the dish clean. In reality, it's too good to be nitpicky on what you call it!
Scalloped Potatoes II (Printable PDF)
2 Tablespoons margarine
4 Tablespoons flour
2 cups non-fat milk
½ teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
1 cup chopped onion
Prepare a large casserole dish by coating lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Make a white sauce by melting margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. Place a layer of potatoes and onion in a prepared casserole pan, using 1/4 of the potatoes and 1/4 cup onion. Spread with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat layers, making a total of 4. Bake at 350°F for one hour. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 270 milligrams sodium, 36 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 6 grams protein
Source: Adapted from What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl