HAM AND POTATO SUPREME

When you want something warm and comforting this Ham and Potato Supreme is just the answer. The velvety cheese sauce blankets the ham and potatoes making it the perfect cool weather comfort food!
Some days can be just brutal. The to do list seems to get longer instead of shorter. Crazy unforeseen roadblocks create havoc on productivity. On those days I like to pull out some of my favorite recipes like this Ham and Potato Supreme from my Mom. They provide comfort in a way that just seems to take all the stress away.

Classic ham and potato supreme is comforting, simple to make, easily doubled (to freeze for the next stressful day) and the most important thing…… delicious!

I’m originally from Nebraska, we call this dish a casserole, but where my husband is from (Minnesota) they call it a hot dish. Its meat and vegetables mixed together with a sauce (in this case a light cheesy velvety sauce wrapped around ham and potatoes.)

The French call this sauce a Béchamel. Yep, a fancy word for cheese sauce. The biggest issue when thickening sauces with flour is they can taste kind of paste-like. A simple fix solves that problem.  

Start with melted butter then add a little flour to it. Cook the flour for several minutes to get the flour taste to turn into a rich, earthy taste without any powdery/paste sensation lingering. It’s easy to do, just stir it in for 3- 5 minutes over medium heat before adding the liquid and the cheese. Really, that takes care of making the sauce rich and velvety tasting.

I find if you use a whisk to stir the sauce, you eliminate any lumps allowing for a smooth sauce. You will know when the sauce is done when it starts to thicken.

When you first add the milk to the sauce it will have some bits in it and be very thin. As you continue stirring it slowly thickens. You’ll definitely notice the sauce changing consistency as you stir it.   When it gets to point where it coats the back of a spoon and doesn’t run/drip down the spoon it’s done. Here are some pictures of the beginning of the sauce and the finished product.

Rich Velvety cheese sauce covering diced ham and potatoes.  Perfect for when you just want a good comfort food meal with the basics

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp Onion minced (about 1/4 of small onion) (Optional)
  • 6 tbsp Salted Butter
  • 6 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 1/2 Cups 2% Milk (whole milk ok)
  • 1 1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese shredded (see option notes below)
  • 3 Cups Russet Potatoes peeled, diced and boiled to al dente
  • 1 pound Ham diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley minced finely

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Peel and dice potatoes and place in a stock pot of cold water.
  3. Simmer on high until the water starts to boil, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Boil potatoes until they are cooked thru, but still somewhat firm (al dente) The potatoes will continue to cook when in the oven after mixing all ingredients. If you cook them to doneness now, they will become a soft mushy mess after baking.
  5. Once Potatoes are cooked to al dente, drain water and put back into the stockpot until later.
  6. Dice ham into the same size you cut your potatoes. Once diced, place on top of potatoes in stockpot until ready for sauce.
  7. In small sauce pan on medium heat, melt butter,
  8. Once butter is melted, add minced onions and cook until translucent and soft. (About 5 minutes.) Resist turning up the heat to cook more quickly, you want the onions to remain unbrowned.
  9. Once the onions are translucent, add the flour to the sauce pan and cook for 5-8 mins. Stir with a whisk constantly. This step is crucial to get the earthy taste of flour to come through and not be paste tasting when finished.
  10. Once flour is cooked, slowly add milk to flour mixture, whisking rapidly. It is better to incorporate small amounts of the milk while whisking to avoid lumps. If you pour all the milk in at once your sauce may be lumpy.
  11. Once all the milk is added continue to stir until sauce begins to thicken (8-10 minutes.)
  12. When the sauce can coat the back of a spoon without running it is ready. (Imagine a slightly thicker pancake batter.)
  13. Once sauce reaches the spoon test thickness, add in salt, pepper and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Once cheese is melted completely, remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  14. Pour Cheese mixture over potatoes and ham mixture and stir to distribute all evenly.
  15. Place combined mixture in baking dish. (9X13 works well, but any will do.)
  16. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over the top.
  17. Bake, uncovered at 350º on the middle rack in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sides are bubbly.
  18. Once done, let rest for 15 mins then sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve.
  19. This will make 8 full sized portions or 10-14 portions for a light luncheon with a salad.

Recipe Notes
This dish freezes really well. You can double the recipe and after baking divide it into smaller portions for the freezer.

If you have some picky eaters, the dish is fine without onions. 

Any semi-soft cheese will do. If you prefer a gouda, use that. I've also mixed both cheddar and a goat cheese for a slightly tangy taste.

Recipe Source:westviamidwest.com

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