Editrix’ note: While I was busy eating Peasant Breakfast for a solid two out of my three daily meals (even foodies get lazy, it seems), Ms. Klein was busy being responsible and creative and putting together the following SFMF. Due partly to pesky formatting issues that made this look like less than the piece of aesthetic perfection it should be, and partly to my apparently newfound hobby of being a worthless layabout, I present this to you now– a solid fortnight after its birth. Think of it as an early Christmas/Hanukkah gift.
I am a soul adrift. My refrigerator – not to mention my sink, counters, and oven – is a disaster. This year Mike and I decided to be brave and to host our first Klein-Davis family hurliday and, while it was a lot of fun, MAN is it a lot of work! Growing up you approach holiday feasts with reckless abandon shoveling in your allotted 6200 calories worth of mashed potatoes, funneling 8-10 cups of gravy onto your turkey and bulking up to approach the dessert spread. I now have a new respect for the men/women who put those spreads together while the rest of the family watches football and catches up on the details of their second cousin’s recent divorce and subsequent relationship with the neighbor’s estranged pool boy. Not only was the cooking/shopping/table-setting a production, when my 19 guests walked (read: did the Bailey’s-Kahlua stumble) out my front door I realized that the work had just begun. I had laundry and leftovers to contend with.
So last night, a full four days after the initial triptophan-laced encounter, I went to my saran-wrapped disaster area of a refrigerator to see what was left of the wreckage. I found the following items that either needed to be thrown away or dealt with immediately: an onion, left over from the stuffing; two potatoes– the only ones that were salvageable from my rotten 10 pound bag (lucky I didn’t do a post a few days earlier entitled SFMF: Lasers Coming Out of My Eyes Edition); some milk– I don’t drink milk, like, EVER; and three random slices of ham. And now, to all ye judgers of the stalwart Midwestern hot-dish: You will hush up because the jam I whipped up cleared an entire shelf of space in my fridge AND was damn tasty.
I present to you: Ham & Blue Cheese Gratin
- 1 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 1 heaping tbsp flour
- 1 pat of butter (probably about 1/2 a tablespoon)
- 1/2 a small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (I strongly suggest putting this 3 pound wheel of heaven on your Christmas list. Not kidding.)
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into thin slices
- 1 1/2 cups thick sliced ham (chop the slices up into medium sized cubes)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the milk and flour, add about a teaspoon each of salt & pepper, and set aside. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When that’s melted add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Add the milk mixture and bring it all to a boil for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, or until it thickens slightly (sort of like a roux). Remove from the heat and add about half of the cheese. Stir until the whole thing is nice and smooth. Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of your cutest little baking dish (mine is approximately 4×8 and has a cow on the bottom of it). Pour half of the cheese mixture over that, then the ham. Layer the rest of the potatoes, the rest of the cheese sauce, then sprinkle the whole thing with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Cover with foil & bake for 45 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue to cook for 30-35 minutes (the top will be bubbly and browned). Insert your fork and prepare for unbridled ecstasy.
Also, you will be pleased to note that this heavenly hot dish does not contain Velveeta or a can of Campbell’s condensed soup. Stereotype busted.