Even Better with Bacon

Homemade au gratin potatoes are delicious but add bacon and they are even more tasty! I made these to bring to my mom's on Christmas knowing they would be a perfect compliment to the ham and fried chicken that she was making. As I suspected my potatoes were a hit! The husband was disappointed when I didn't bring the leftovers home- as I tried to explain to him since we left before late-comers got to eat it would've been rude to leave with food we brought!

So here I am a few days later duplicating (in a smaller amount) the au gratin potatoes with bacon.

An early morning grocery run to pick up bacon (on sale for $3.49- and it is no longer a full pound by the way) two blocks of cheese- one sharp and one extra sharp cheddar, Russet potatoes were on sale too- just .99 for a 5 lb bag!

First things first (the most dreaded part for me) is to peel some potatoes.

Peel them and wash them well. If you were using a new potato or red potato you could just scrub them well and not peel them. Then I slice the potatoes thinly and spread them in a pan that I sprayed with cooking spray.

I love to cook from scratch and yes it can be time-consuming but I have my little tricks that help make the most of my time without adding unnecessary steps. Some recipes I have heard of call for blanching the potatoes but there is no need to do that if they are cut thinly.

Next I chop the raw bacon and put it in a fry pan to crisp up. Chopping it before cooking is easier and it seems to cook a bit faster too.

While the bacon is cooking I start my cheese sauce by making a white sauce. I took 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (cheese has enough salt so why add more?) and melted it and then stirred in 2 tablespoons of flour.

Stir as you add in the milk. I added 2 1/4 cups. ( If using more potatoes you would just increase the milk, flour and cheese of course)

I opened both packages of cheese (8 oz. each) and instead of shredding, I lazily crumbled them in the white sauce which was cooking under a low flame.

The bacon cooked as I occasionally stirred the sauce as the cheese melted in. By the time my sauce was smooth the bacon was done. I drained the bacon and sprinkled it over the top of the potatoes in the pan.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Then I took the pot of cheese sauce and poured it over the top of the potatoes and bacon.

Next I simply took my tongs and lifted the potatoes and bacon making sure I got the sauce mixed throughout.

That's it- the potatoes au gratin with bacon is ready for the oven. I covered the pan, put it into the oven and set my timer for 1 hour.

After the hour was up I removed the lid and I will allow it to finish baking uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes.

Above is the finished product (5 lbs of potatoes) I made for Christmas after the first round of eating. They were perfect! Today's batch is about half as much as I made the other day but I am sure it will be gone just as quickly. You can even prepare these the day before, refrigerate and then bake fresh for dinner. They do reheat well in the microwave or if you prefer reheat in the oven.

Yum! You can also add chopped red onion to them before baking but they don't really need it. As you can see I used no added salt or even pepper. I prefer to pepper them to taste when serving.

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