Esta's Kitchen: The Best Beer Scalloped Potatoes Ever
By: Esta Buchanan, March 22, 2012
Don Parkinson - Esta stocks up on her favorite ingredients.
So, here’s my theory: If we are lucky, we experience a few major events that change the course our lives. If we are very lucky we get more than a few. If we are very, very lucky then we get two of them in one week.
And that’s how my life went last week because I did two very important things:
- I invented beer scalloped potatoes with brown butter beer cheese sauce and beer roasted potatoes.
- I tried a beer by Dogfish Head Brewery called “Miles Davis Bitches Brew.”
Both were life-changing events and I will certainly never be the same again.
This is what I like about life. You are just bumbling along like normal, living the dream, counting the hours ‘til you can go back to bed and then BAM! You have a sip of a new beer and everything changes.
Side note: Here’s what I don’t like about life. Dumbass Facebook statuses. Dear EveryFreakinBody, I don’t care about how much you worked out: it makes you seem ridic. I don’t care about perfect your husband/boyfriend is because he’s defs not. I don’t care about what you gave up for Lent: do it in private, that’s the point. But mostly, I REALLY REALLY don’t need to see another status that start off with: “I don’t usually post these kind of the things…” Get it together people. COME ON!
Beer Scalloped Potatoes
- 5 to 6 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly (best to use a food processor or mandoline for this)
- 3 T butter
- 3 T flour
- 2 cups shredded cheese (Colby, Jack, cheddar, or a mixture)
- 1 T dried basil
- ½ cup Dogfish Miles Davis Bitches Brew beer (more if desired)
- 1 ½ cups half n’ half (or milk)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Roast potatoes according to Beer Roasted Veggies column.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a frying pan on high heat. Butter will foam, then turn brown. Add flour and whisk together to make a roux. Turn the heat down to medium and slowly whisk in the beer, then the half n’ half.
Once the mixture has thickened* take off the heat and add the cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Incorporate all ingredients and set aside.
In 13 x 9-inch pan, layer the roasted potatoes evenly across the bottom of the pan. Top with cheese sauce and give a little stir to make sure the cheese sauce is distributed evenly throughout the dish.
Bake at 350 degrees, until bubbly.*A great way to tell if the sauce is thick enough is coat the back of a wooden spoon with the sauce, then run your finger through it. If the mixture does not come back together right away then it is perfectly thick!
But back to life-changing beer. I found the Bitches Brew totally by accident, as I was perusing the craft aisle beer at Teaticket Market, crossing off beers off my Beers To Try List (it’s also available at Grain and Vine Spirits Shoppe in Hyannis).
I’m a huge fan of jazz so “Miles Davis” caught my eye—plus I love the word “bitches.” I’m also a complete sucker for packaging and the gorgeous label and wine-like bottle appealed to me as well.
But mostly it was the taste. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such a smooth beer. It was like drinking pure lust. I think I actually closed my eyes and moaned. Brewed with honey and gesho root (not geisha, ‘cause that would be a completely different beer), the honey really comes through of a dark but not overpowering sip.
I could drink glass after glass and still have a shot of it after that.
When a potato is a shellfish
It was the brown butter beer scalloped potatoes that really pushed my life over the top.
Usually scalloped potatoes are made with a homemade cheese sauce—at least this is how The Jackanator makes them, and up until last week she made the best ones I’ve ever tasted.
I feel like adding beer to cheese sauce is a given. Of course it tastes good! I wanted more beer flavor in all aspects of the dish. So I took my own advice and roasted the potato slices with beer (see last weeks column for recipe).
Brown is my fav-o-rite butter
And then the heavens opened, a light beamed down upon me, and the angels sang. I decided that instead of just roasting the potatoes in beer, I should step up the beer cheese sauce by browning the butter first.
If you’ve never experienced the wonder of brown butter, you should just give up now. Brown butter is butter that you’ve melted in a frying pan past the foam stage until it browns. It turns the butter into this nutty sauce that tastes great on pasta, gnocchi, ravioli, veggies, in a spoon, on my chest... really, anywhere and on anything.
I recommend it all the time to people because literally all you need is butter. I even got Rooms to cook it, and his idea of “cooking” is to warm up the leftovers I bring him in the microwave.
The best part of this dish... it’s even better the next day. So on the growing list of things that get better as they age: wine, men, and beer scalloped potatoes roasted with brown butter cheese sauce.