Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond
NOTE: From FoodNetwork. This was really good but I made several changes to it, explained below under "Comments".
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing dish
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds russet potatoes peeled
3 cups diced cooked ham (about 1-1/2 lbs untrimmed, 1 lb after trimming)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh parsley, for sprinkling, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add the butter and onions to a large skillet over medium heat and saute until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and whisk them together. Continue cooking the onion/flour mixture until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and milk and whisk around, allowing the mixture to thicken; this will take 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir the sauce, reduce the heat and keep warm.
2. Slice the potatoes really thin using a mandolin or a really sharp knife, the thinner the better. Generously butter a 3-quart baking dish, then add half the sliced potatoes and half the diced ham. Sprinkle on half the cheese then pour on half the sauce from the skillet. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese and sauce. Sprinkle extra pepper on top.
3. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 50 minutes, then remove the foil and bake until the cheese is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, an additional 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired and serve it up.
Comments: This was really good but I made several changes:
1) Original recipe called for 1-1/2 cups each of milk and half-and-half. I never have half-and-half but I always have heavy cream, so I switched to 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream.
2) Original recipe doesn't use salt when making the sauce. On top of that, a lot of comments said the sauce was too bland and wondered what could be done. Some people are so dumb.Thank God we seem to be reaching the end of the era in which salt is considered the kiss of death.
3) Original recipe doesn't call for peeling the potatoes, which is rather odd, but I did it anyway.
4) Original recipe calls for monterey jack cheese. I used sharp cheddar; the ham I had was exremely flavorful and I was afraid it would drown out the jack cheese.
5) Original recipe says to use a 2-quart casserole. I have absolutely no idea how she possibly managed to fit this into a 2-quart; for me, one layer of potatoes and ham almost completely filled up my 2-quart. It was obvious another layer would never fit so I moved it all to my three-quart, which was barely large enough. There's absolutely no way this recipe would fit into a 2-quart casserole. Someday I'll have to watch this episode; I suspect she wasn't really using 2 lbs of potatoes.