Queso scalloped potatoes & ham

Sometimes experiments work. We had half a jar of queso left after making nachos a few nights ago, and some leftover Christmas ham, so when I decided to use the ham for scalloped potatoes I added the queso. Bingo! Second time around I put in a whole jar of queso and some chiles.

You could swap out the ham for some crispy bacon or cooked sausage, and use whatever cheese you prefer. Make it spicier with chunks of chorizo. Just cook any meat you use before assembling and baking.

The slicing blade on a food processor makes quick work of thinly slicing the potatoes and onions. A mandoline will work too. Either process yields uniformly sliced pieces that will cook evenly, but if you have to do it by hand try to keep the slices about 1/8″ thick.

– Joan, 29 December 2017

Queso Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

  • 2¼-2½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1½ cups cubed ham
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar, cojack, or Mexican blend cheese
  • 15 ounces queso blanco
  • ¼ cup chopped canned chiles
  • ¾ cup half and half or whole milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Use a food processor or mandoline to cut the potatoes and onions into 1/8″ thick slices. Heat the queso, chiles, half and half or milk, garlic and cumin just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. You can add some pepper, but be cautious with salt since there’s already quite a bit in the ham, cheese and queso.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2½ quart oven-safe pan. You’ll be making 3 layers: starting with potatoes, overlap them to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1/3 of the onions, 1/3 of the ham, 1/3 of the warm sauce, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat two more times, ending with shredded cheese. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. The cheese on top will brown and get crunchy, which we thought was tasty. If you want it browned but not crunchy, cover the pan with foil after 30 minutes.

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