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Scalloped potatoes with less cream still tasty on Astini News

Q. I found a recipe that I like for scalloped potatoes (russets combined with sweet potatoes), which calls for four cups of heavy cream. I tried making it with half and half, but it turned into a curdled mess. Any ideas to lighten up this recipe without giving up too much of the creaminess of the original?

Here's the recipe the reader wishes to modify. It's courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and can found on the website:

Scalloped Russet and Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 6 servings

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

4 cups heavy cream, or more as needed

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 -inch slices

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 -inch slices

8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 2-quart square baking dish with the butter.

Bring the cream to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Add the potatoes, adding more cream as necessary to completely cover them. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are barely fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.

With a large spoon, transfer 1/3 of the potatoes (both Idaho and sweet), with some of the cream, to the prepared dish, making an even layer. Top with 1/3 of the cheese, and continue layering the potatoes and cheese, ending with cheese, and topping each layer with some of the cream remaining in the pan. Make sure to add enough cream to each layer so that the potatoes are just covered with cream. (You probably will not use all of the cream remaining in the saucepan. Discard any remaining cream.)

Place the dish on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

A. This recipe looks very delicious and is indeed rich. The reason your version turned into a curdled mess is because you cannot cook half and half that long, nor can you cook milk that long, without sugar to keep it from burning or the fat to hold it together. All is not lost, however. You could start by parboiling the potatoes. Just peel them, slice them and cook them on top of the stove for about 20 minutes. Then pour 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream over the potatoes along with the rest of the ingredients. Follow the recipe the same from here. You have cut the fat by half, and you have just cooked the vegetables ahead of time like most recipes call for. Now you will bake them in the milk, cream, and cheese. You may actually like them better this way!

Q. Does Laura use/recommend mandolins, or does she just pretty much use a chef's knife instead?

A. I rarely use a mandolin because I like to use my knives, but they are very, very useful for getting exact cuts. When I do use mine, I love it. If you have to slice lots of apples or peaches for something and you want them uniform, a mandolin is awesome. I highly recommend getting the protective glove to wear on the hand holding the gizmo that holds the vegetable or fruit. We saw so many people get careless and hold the vegetables — without the attachment and cut the heck out of themselves. That blade is sharp! The glove looks like a knight's chain mail or something Michael Jackson would covet, so you will want to wear it and bring out your inner "Game of Thrones."

Laura Wilson, owner of La Dolce Vita in Roanoke, is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. She answers questions in The News-Sentinel every other Tuesday. Have a question for Laura? Submit it to or call 461-8284. We'll pass on your questions to Laura.

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