This is what I would call a "rustic" dish... Rustic is a nice way of saying it doesn't look very pretty, lol. My husband was a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and he loved hearty dishes like this, especially in the winter months. So this has been a family favorite for years. It doesn't require many ingredients, and if you dice up your ham the night before, you'll save yourself a little last-minute prep time. And since the potatoes don't need to be peeled, that's a time-saver as well. It does take a while to bake - an hour and 15 minutes, so you need to plan for that. I serve it as a main dish with a salad or some broccoli on the side. Recipe adapted from the More-with-Less Cookbook, by Doris Janzen Longacre.
Here's what you need:
- 4 medium potatoes
- 2-1/2 Cups diced ham
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 Cups milk
- 1 Cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- *Optional - 1 medium onion, sliced
When you finish slicing the potatoes, place them in a greased casserole. (I'm goin' retro with my old Corningware dish today.) Put the ham into the dish with the potatoes - any which way; like I said, it's "rustic". If you're adding onion, throw it in there too.
Next, start on your cheese sauce: Melt the butter over medium-low heat, then add flour and salt. Stir and cook for a bit until smooth. Slowly add the milk, and stir. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly:
Let it boil for 1 - 2 minutes or until it thickens. Then add the cheese and stir until smooth and creamy:
Pour the cheese sauce over the ham and potatoes. Mix it all around to make sure everything's covered with that cheese sauce. Don't worry if it looks like there's not enough sauce. There will be plenty. As it bakes, the ham and potatoes release their juices, which add to the cheese and make the perfect amount of flavorful sauce. You can add some fresh, ground pepper on top before popping it in the oven - I usually do.
Cover, and bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Then remove the cover, and bake 15 minutes longer. Potatoes should be nice and tender. I typically serve this dish with a side of steamed green beans or broccoli...(I love it when the extra cheese sauce runs into the veggies on the plate!) Serves six.