I’m not a “food blogger”, but here is a great recipe I wanted to share anyway. If what you’re craving is a simple, homey, soul-warming meal on a chilly fall evening, then look no further! This cheesy ham casserole is the very definition of comfort food. It can fill up the hungriest bellies, ease the worst of days, and maybe even provide some great leftovers for the rest of the week (that is, if you can manage to leave any for tomorrow!). I usually can’t stop at any fewer than two big helpings of this stuff, and not just because I’m pregnant, although I’d love to use that as an excuse.
The great thing about this recipe (besides the awesome stick-to-your-ribs taste) is that it uses fairly common ingredients that many of us keep stocked up all the time. Ham, potatoes, onion, milk, cheese…pretty much staples in our house, anyway! I use the thick pre-cooked ham steaks for this recipe. For potatoes, whatever type you have or like, although I’m partial to the red ones. Most people probably prefer them to be peeled, but whatever your crowd likes is allllllright.
Probably the most time-consuming part of this recipe is the chopping of ingredients and making the cream sauce. Hey, busy folks, no judgment here—if you want to sub in a couple of cans of cream-of-onion-or-whatever-soup you have in the pantry, I imagine it would taste just about as good! I do adore the way this creamy from-scratch mixture blends in and soaks the potatoes in its yummy flavor, so if you have the time, I’d highly recommend trying it. It really only adds about ten extra minutes onto the total prep time.
Once your creamy onion sauce has a nice thick texture, you’re ready to layer everything how you like it, then bake!
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 tbsp butter
1 c minced onion
3 tbsp all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free prep)
1 tsp salt
Few twists freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups milk
4 medium potatoes, sliced thin
2-3 c cooked, diced ham
1-2 cups chopped fresh or frozen spinach, kale or broccoli (or vegetable of choice)
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. (Many commenters on cooks.com suggested 425 degrees instead, so the potatoes will fully cook in the time suggested.) Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended. (Be careful not to scorch.) Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. (It should eventually resemble a creamy soup.)
- If using fresh greens, simply chop or tear them and sprinkle in among the layers. If using frozen veggies, let them thaw a bit at room temp (or microwave a minute or so) and pat dry. *This is an easy ingredient to omit if you are feeding pickier eaters; however, if you can sneak even a little bit in there, you’ll feel a lot better about the nutritional value of the dish! Even my toddler, who shuns almost everything green, gobbled this up, broccoli included. There’s so much creamy cheesiness that they’ll hardly mind the healthy stuff!
- In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer half the potatoes, vegetables, ham cubes, and sauce. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings.
I forgot to include a picture of the pan right out of the oven, so try to picture it with a nice golden-brown cheesy crust!
*Feel free to use different varieties of cheese to change up the flavor. We’re partial to Cabot extra-sharp cheddar at our house!
*Lower-fat options: use reduced-fat cheese (or less of it), lessen the amount of butter in the onion mix, use skim or lower-fat milk. I can’t vouch for the taste results, but play with the ingredients and quantities and see what fits your needs.
This recipe has been adapted from cooks.com.