This recipe was the very first I remember making in 7th Grade Home Economics class at Chenango Valley with Miss D. and it still is a go-to side-dish.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

7TH Grade Home-Economics Scalloped Potatoes (prep. Time about 1 hour. Serves 4)

1 large baking potato, peeled and sliced into about ¼” rounds

½ stick unsalted butter (2 Tb. For the sauce with the rest cut into little slice or cubes)

2 Tb. flour

1 small onion, finely diced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

2 C. milk

1 Tb. Parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X9 baking pan with no-stick spray or butter the pan.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute’ the onions until they are tender. (The original home-ec. recipe left the onions raw, sprinkled between layers of potato and sauce but I don’t like the crunchy texture of the onions even after the casserole has baked.) Whisk in the flour with a wire whisk and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Continue to whisk as the flour and butter will ball up then loosen back up as it cooks for about 2 minutes.  Once the roux returns to more of a paste form, slowly whisk in the flour.  Once the sauce is smooth, you can switch to a spoon to make sure none of the sauce is accumulating in the bottom of the can and burning.  Grate in the nutmeg and add the salt and pepper, stirring the whole time.  You can increase the heat to medium until the sauce almost comes to a boil as it thickens.  Once it is the consistency of a thick cream soup, remove from heat. Place a layer of sliced potato in the bottom of the greased pan. (At this point, in the original 7th grade Home Economics recipe, you would scattered raw, diced onion on top of the potato.) Spoon some of the sauce over the potatoes to evenly cover.  Crack some more black pepper over top and scattered some of the butter chunks over the top.  Repeat with another layer of potato/ béchamel-onion sauce, pepper, butter and remaining potatoes, butter, pepper and sauce.  Make sure the last of the sauce completely covers the top layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes for color.

Kathy Whyte/WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/WNBF News

Bake for about 40 minutes (uncovered) until bubbling and potatoes are tender when poked with the tip of a sharp knife.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes to set up before serving as a side dish.

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*This can easily be modified for potatoes au gratin by stirring in 1 C. shredded cheddar or combination of cheese into the béchamel.  If sauce becomes too thick, it can be thinned with more milk before spooning it over the potato layers.  Top with shredded cheese in the last 15 minutes of baking.

How easy can a recipe be if it was one of the first mastered by a 7th-grader?

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