If you are like me and are having guests for either dinner or a Holiday, you love dishes that you make ahead. And there aren't many successful potato dishes to make ahead though, but this is one of them. I've made this dish for a few years now, and it works well when I bake them half way the night before and finish them the last hour before I want to sit down to a meal. By the way, this dish tastes fabulous with the cheese and the bacon too. It fits all of my categories, easy and excellent!
I don't recommend doing it more than one day in advance though. The color of the potatoes may turn brownish on you.
If you have a food processor, this dish is extremely simple to make. If not, you can either thinly slice the potatoes or use a mandolin on a fine setting.
Here's the recipe:
4 cups of thinly sliced red bliss potatoes, (I don't peel them)
2 cups of grated cheese, Swiss or Gruyere (even cheddar will work)
3 cups whole milk or light cream (I use whole milk)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb. bacon, finely chopped
2 T. butter
1 T. vegetable oil
3 T. flour
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place a dutch oven on medium heat on stove top, add oil. Add chopped bacon and render fat, until almost gone and you are left with brown bacon meat. Turn heat down to low and remove bacon, set aside on a paper towel. Add chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes to soften. Add butter and flour, stir and cook for just a minute. Add milk and stir, then add salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. Turn stove to medium heat while stirring and bring to a simmer. Add cheese a little at a time, stirring in between so it melts into sauce. Turn off heat.
Put cleaned potatoes into your food processor until all are sliced and add into the cheese sauce. Stir with wooden spoon until all potato slices are covered. Stir in bacon bits.
Pour potato mixture into a 9 x 13 (or similar) size baking pan and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Take out of oven and let cool. Place into the refrigerator overnight.
Two hours before serving, bring potatoes out onto counter to bring to room temperature. One hour before serving, remove foil from potatoes and place into a pre-heated, 375 degrees oven for one hour. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
You can do this dish all at once, but it will need to cook for 2 hours. Remove foil the last half of baking though.