Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food Network Chefs Challenge: Aaron's Potatoes Au Gratin

I am participating in the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge, where the challenge is cooking its way through all the Food Network Chefs.
This week is Aaron McCargo, Jr., who is the host of "Big Daddy's House", although I have to admit I don't know much about him or ever watched his show. I totally missed the season that he won The Next Food Network Star, and I've watched about 2 minutes max of his show on Food Network. So I didn't have any idea of what recipe of his I wanted to try.

I scrolled through his Top 100 recipes, his Potatoes Au Gratin caught my eye because it could easily flow into my meal plan, didn't have any unusual ingredients, and I had everything on hand to make it.

The verdict?
I baked for 50 minutes, and the potatoes were a little hard still. So I threw the potatoes into the microwave for 10 minutes, then back into the oven for 10 minutes with the foil off to crisp up the topping. This was the same issue that I've had the other times I've tried to make homemade au gratin/scalloped time. I have decided I'm going to have to give them a good 2 hour window, so I'm not waiting impatiently for the potatoes to cool.

But when we started eating the potatoes....oh yummy. They were so much better than an box you can buy anywhere. They tasted like real potatoes, and were the highlight of our whole dinner. This recipe made a ton of potatoes, so I have been enjoying eating them for lunch so far this week.

Potatoes Au Gratin
Adapted from Aaron McCargo Jr's recipe on Food Network

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated yellow Cheddar

1/4 cup grated American cheese

1/4 cup grated white cheddar

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder

1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed, peeled and sliced thin
(I did some slices by hand, but then used my food processor to slice them up)

1 stick butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
2 teaspoons smoky paprika
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour until combined. Add milk a little at a time, whisking to remove lumps; continue to cook for 6 minutes, or until it is thickened. Lower heat and add the cheese, bouillon, nutmeg and black pepper. Whisk until well combined and sauce thickens, approximately 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
For the topping, combine melted butter, bread crumbs and smoky paprika in a bowl. Stir well.
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray, and layer 1/3 of potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Pour 1/3 of cheese sauce over potatoes, then repeat with another 1/3 of potatoes and sauce, ending with the cheese sauce on top and sprinkle with topping.
Wrap with foil and bake in oven for 60 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10-15 minutes uncovered. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking


  1. When I was searching for my Aaron McCargo recipe, I was going to make these but then I realized I didn't have all the ingredients so I decided to stick with something I had. I'm glad you made them and shared. They look so tasty. I have trouble judging cooking time as well. Sometimes I prick the taters with a fork and cook them in the microwave for a short time at the beginning to soften them up.

  2. Wow this look amazing. What an excellent choice. I have found when baking potatoes to add just a little extra liquid helps the cooking process.

  3. These look fabulous! Potatoes and cheese, comfort food at it's finest. Good to note about the cooking time. Potatoes are on sale this week so I'm putting it on the list.

    Thanks for participating in FNCCC. I'm loving the new recipes and most of all, the commentary that comes along with them. Takes the guess work out of it!

  4. Your dish looks so yummy! I wonder what would happen if you precooked the potatoes just a little in the microwave before slicing them?

  5. wow, does that look tasty! If I had potatoes in my house right now, I would have made these this week!

  6. That looks delish. I have not made this type of thing forever because I have a problem getting the potatoes to cook. Your pictures have made me want to try again:)

  7. This looks tasty and would go wonderfully with meat loaf or poor man's salisbury steak. ;-) YUM!