One of my absolute favorite comfort food dishes is Scalloped Potatoes with Ham. I can remember coming home from school and seeing a casserole dish filled with slices of potatoes layered with ham and nestled in a delicious, creamy sauce. My mouth would instantly begin to water. While my Mom always baked hers in the oven (for what seemed like an eternity), I now make mine on the stove for a quick weeknight dish or easy holiday side. Stove Top Scalloped Potatoes taste just like the layered version but cook in half the time of the original with none of the fussy preparation. It’s also a great way to use up leftover ham from a Baked Ham dinner.
Scalloped Potatoes Vs Potatoes Au Gratin
There’s always been some debate between what defines Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes Au Gratin. Often the terms are used interchangeably but there is a difference between the two dishes. Scalloped potatoes are a cream sauce based dish. The potatoes are usually sliced thinly like a gratin however what technically makes a dish ‘scalloped’ is the cream based sauce. A gratin, however, is any vegetable dish that is topped with cheese and bread crumbs and layered with butter and then baked until brown and crispy. A gratin is made with a variety of vegetables but most often cauliflower or potatoes.
Oven Vs. Stove Top Scalloped Potatoes
There’s no need to heat up the oven for this Scalloped Potatoes with Ham recipe featuring hot and bubbly cheddar cheese and smoky ham. Petite diced potatoes and ham are combined with a cream sauce and then broiled (optional) to a perfect golden brown. Although the supermarket shelves are lined with “add water, heat, and serve” versions of scalloped potatoes, making them from scratch doesn’t have to take any more time. The prepackaged box kits for Scalloped potatoes need 25-minutes in the oven to bake — for the dehydrated potatoes to reconstitute and the dehydrated packet of sauce to thicken.
This version of scalloped potatoes is also ready in about 25 minutes and uses real ingredients and the differences in flavor and texture are immeasurable. Because I dice the potatoes and ham, there’s no tedious layering of the potatoes or ham slices. The dish is so quick because I boil the potatoes while the sauce is being made, so it comes together very quickly. Then it’s just a quick (optional) 5-10 minute broil in the oven to brown up the top layer of cheese. To be honest, most often I skip this step and go right to the table in just 20 minutes.
Stove Top Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
We most often use leftover ham from a holiday dinner. However, diced, smoked ham is also readily available near the full-sized hams at the grocery meat counter. This recipe does not use deli-style ham.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or parsley
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound ham, diced *See Notes
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
- If finishing under the broiler, heat oven to broil. If not, skip this step.
- Add potatoes into a medium pot and fill with enough cold water to just covet the potatoes. Bring to a full boil on the stove. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat, about 1 minute.
- Add onion and sauté until it turns soft and translucent about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add chicken stock, milk, thyme or parsley, salt, pepper, and bring to simmer. Add the cheese and stir to melt. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain well and put them back into the pot and add the ham. Pour the warm cheese mixture over the potatoes and stir to combine. If desired, transfer to a serving or gratin dish for dinner service.
- If you are broiling the potatoes to brown the top, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart gratin dish and broil until the cream is bubbling around sides and top is golden brown, about 5 - 10 minutes.