Today I’m introducing a fun new challenge that I have started and recruited about 100 other bloggers to join me. It is a bi-monthly recipe challenge where I challenge us all to come up with a recipe using a specific ingredient or technique (think “Chopped” but a lot easier.) It will be held on the second Wednesday of every other month.. and we're calling it the “Ultimate Recipe Challenge”
This month’s theme ingredient (since it is March.. and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day) is: POTATOES
White, red, sweet, fingerling, yukon gold or even powdered mashed.. ANY potato counted. Plus the dish could be sweet or savory, a entree or a side.. Heck, even a dessert! But there had to be potatoes in it somewhere.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Ham and Potato Gratin
What I love most about this recipe is that you just need to throw everything in the crock pot and let it go. Plus it can be either a side or complete meal because it is so hardy and filling.
The ingredients are things you may already have in your pantry:
5 Cups Peeled Potatoes (cut into 1/2 inch thick slices)
1 Cup cubed ham (about 1/2 of a ham steak)
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Cup Milk
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I actually used a cheese blend because it was what I had but the flavor will be richer if you use all cheddar)
Of course the star of the show is the potatoes. I used Idaho baking potatoes since I knew they would hold up in the slow cooker. You want the slices to be pretty thick, which is why I chopped them by hand and not with a mandolin. I also chopped the onion pretty coursely because I like onion. If you don’t like big pieces of onion, you could chop them finer and they would practically disappear after cooking.
Finally I diced up half a ham steak. You could use any type of ham for this but i found the ham steak was the most inexpensive way to go.
Next layer the potatoes, onions and ham in a WELL OILED slow cooker. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper between each layer.
Next you will mix the milk, cheese, and soup in a separate bowl. Pour the mixture over the potatoes but DO NOT MIX. You can shake the crock pot a little to get it to ‘settle but don’t stir it up. You want it to sit on top and cook down into the potatoes.
Cook on HIGH for 3 hours. Mix well before serving.
The cheese and soup melt down into the perfectly cooked potatoes. It is so rich and creamy!
Of course, to be a true Gratin you need a crumb crust. At serving you could add some toasted breadcrumbs to the top. I didn’t want to wait that long to dig in.. the house smelled so good.
If you don’t like ham you could make this recipe without it, or even substitute bacon or cubed chicken.
But I personally think it is just about perfect the way it is!
Of course, Gratin is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potato recipes. Here are dozens of other potato recipes submitted for this challenge. (And if you are a blogger and would like to join May’s challenge.. email me or contact me on Facebook and I will add you to the group!)