Saturday, May 7, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Ham and Potato Casserole

This was one of those, "I'm tired of bringing the same old thing to the potluck, so what can I adapt to put in a crock pot?" kind of a thing. I usually do this in a regular, rectangular casserole dish, and I will admit that the top browns quite nicely in the regular oven, but this just gives you one more thing that can be done in a slow cooker, plus I hope it will inspire you to think outside the box and see what other recipes you may have that can be adapted to the crock pot.

Ham and Potato Casserole

Potatoes                      Ham (diced, or leftover)
Cheese                        Potato Water
Milk                            Sour Cream
Butter                          Flour
Parmesan cheese         Garlic salt
Salt                             Pepper

Peel and chop your potatoes and then par-boil them. How long you boil them will depend on how long they need to be cooked in the crock pot. If this will cook all day, you probably don't want to boil them but about 7 min, but whether you will eventually cook them all day or for about 45 min in the oven, you still want them to be fairly firm. Drain them, saving the potato water.
The next thing you want to do is make your own cream of potato soup. Melt butter in a large frying pan and add flour to make a rue, simmering slowly in order to cook the rue, but not brown it (exactly like it was done at the start of bechamel used in the macaroni and cheese recipe). Then add milk and potato water, equal parts is fine. For the crock pot version, you want this to be fairly thick because the moisture won't cook away in the crock pot like it would in the oven. Add garlic salt and/or regular salt and pepper to taste. The garlic salt really adds to it, but if you don't like a lot of garlic you may want to use part regular salt and part garlic.
Once your cream of potato soup is ready, add your par-boiled potatoes and ham. Left-over ham really tastes much better, but we didn't have any. Mix well but be gentle - you don't want to mush the potatoes.
Add in your sour cream - about 1 cup.
Then mix in your cheese. As you could see from the last photo, my pan was too full to add anything else, so I just finished mixing it in the crock pot.
You can use just about any type of cheese you like. This was a fiesta blend that the store had on sale. I've also used this recipe in order to finish up all the odd and ends of cheeses we had in the fridge.
For this size recipe I used a little over 1 pound of cheese.
Wipe the edges, to keep things from burning and then top with parmesan cheese.
Cook on low 6-8 hrs, or on high for 3-4.
Mine was a little thin this time. Someone was using the sink so I didn't drain the potatoes very well. It's okay, it still tasted good.
I love using luncheon plates. It makes a smaller amount of food look like so much more :).

This makes a fine crock pot meal, especially if you use your cooker a lot and need some variety, but I wholeheartedly suggest you also try this recipe in the oven. Prepare it the same way, pour into a rectangular casserole dish, top with the parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 until the casserole is bubbly and browned on top. It looses some of it's moisture so it sets up a bit firmer, which I like, and the crusty top is also really good. Either way, this is something that can be made in advance and held in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it.
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