Being descriptive about food can be a challenge. I find that go back to the same well too often in my descriptions and often will spend quite a bit of time trying to find the right words to adequately describe a dish or even a taste. Some words cut through the haze and land right on target. Smoky is such a word.
For such a descriptive word, its definition seems to lack. Smoky is having the essence of smoke (in taste, look or smell). That does not begin to describe the complex taste that it truly is.
I’ve made my share of dishes that are smoky. There are a number of ways to do this but the three I have employed typically are:
- Actual smoke – this is a grilling favorite. Soak some wood chips (mesquite, apple, hickory, cherry) and place them on the grill. As they heat and smoulder, the smoke permeates any food near by.
- Liquid smoke – some call this cheating. Liquid smoke is a bottle of liquid that has come from soaking in the ashes of burned wood (as above). Any ash is filtered out and the taste is all natural. This is not some chemical concoction. This is great when you don’t have time to smoke something yourself. I use this often when I am frying up some kielbasa. A few drops will do.
- Paprika and other spices – Some spices can get you there all by themselves. Smoked paprika is one of those.
This dish goes the paprika route. It has that deep, smoky flavor.
Very few ingredients.
Making the smoky roux.
The scalloped potatoes have a color that is darker. A light brown or tan.
Topped with cheese.
Hot from the oven.
Smoky Scalloped Potatoes
Prep Time: 0 hours 35 minutes | Cook Time: 1 hours 5 minutes | Makes: 6 servings | Difficulty: Easy
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Once the butter foams, add the shallot and garlic and saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the half-and-half, smoked paprika and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes.Pour half of the potato mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Shake the pan to arrange the potatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle half of each of the cheeses on top of the bottom potato layer. Add the remaining potatoes and shake again to arrange in a layer. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove the foil and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and cheese are golden and browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.