Modified Swiss Cheese Potatoes

I used to believe that the notion of copying or physically taking a recipe from a magazine while at one’s doctor’s office was some sort of bad Hollywood trope.  I mean, I’ve seen people waltz out with a whole magazine before, but it was rare; usually the offender was either a good friend of the physician (or someone in the office), or it was accidental.  I’d never seen anyone just whip out a notepad and copy down cooking instructions before.  In all seriousness, one should just go and buy the darn thing and stop being so cheap.

Well, for me that changed last week.  Yes, I should feel ashamed, but I don’t because the result proved so tasty.  But I digress . . .

I had to visit the optometrist and found myself seated in the outer waiting room.  It’s odd to me that an eye doctor would have a stack of magazines for his patients; I’m thinking that the last thing one would want to do while awaiting an eye exam is to do anything that’ll strain the eye.  As this was going through my head, I – naturally – grabbed one of the home-oriented periodicals and started to thumb through its pages.

The thing that caught my eye was a recipe for a side dish called, “Swiss Cheese Potatoes.”  It sounded interesting and easy, and the more I considered the recipe and its accompanying photo, the more I became convinced that I could successfully make it.  As presented, it was nothing more than glorified “potatoes au gratin,” and really, how hard is it to make potatoes with cheese?

When I showed the Little Woman, she became very excited and enthusiastic.  I knew that’s how she’d respond before I showed her the magazine; I guess I just wanted support in my decision to copy it down.  Yes, we were directly across the hall from Barnes & Noble’s; I should have taken my own advice and walked over there to purchase a copy.  But I was there to get my eyes corrected, not my sense of hypocrisy, so I whipped out my notebook and started scribbling.

It took a week for me to find the time necessary to make this dish, and when I did, I changed a number of things to suit my own tastes.  The Little Woman loved it, so I’m guessing that it’ll now be a part of my regular cooking schedule.  Regretfully, I don’t recall the name of the magazine that provided me with this dish, so despite my alterations, I post this only as a testament to what I did, and not to claim that I created it.  If anyone is familiar with this recipe and knows who created and/or published it, please let me know so that I can give proper credit – thanks!

“Modified” Swiss Cheese Potatoes

  • (2) 15 ounce cans of diced white potatoes
  • (1)  pkg. (approx. 16 ounces) diced cooked ham
  • 2 c. fresh shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (I use Penzey’s “Seasoned Salt,” but your choice)
  • 3/4 c. chopped onion
  • 2 c. chopped celery (optional; I rarely use celery, so I don’t add but it is listed in the original recipe)
  • 2/3 c. milk (I use 2% milk)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  1. Place the potatoes into a Dutch oven and add enough water to cover.  (I just poured the contents of the can into the pot and added more water.)  Cover them and bring the potatoes to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, remove ham from package and rinse.  (I pour the ham into a colander and run it under the faucet for a few minutes before shakinge off the excess water.)
  4. Pre-heat your oven – 400F.  (This is not a part of the original recipe, but it makes sense to do this around this point.)
  5. Add onion (and celery, if used), ham, and seasoned salt, and cook for an additional 10-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  6. Drain.  (At this point you can either transfer the contents of the pot to a large bowl, or as I did, just leave the potatoes, vegetables, and meat in the pot.)
  7. Add 1 cup of cheese, milk, butter, and pepper; mix well.
  8. Transfer to a greased 8” square casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  9. Bake at 400F for 8 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly brown.  (Length depends on your oven.)
  10. Let cool before eating as it will be very hot.  Depending on portion size, this should generate about 4-6 servings.

Notes:

The original recipe differs in that it requires:

  • 8 large potatoes – I used canned potatoes because it was just easier than cooking, then dicing.
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt (total) – This was divided so that half was used to cook the potatoes and the rest was added just before baking.  I opted to change this from regular salt to seasoned salt for the sake of enhancing taste; you might decide otherwise. I also reduced the amount used because of the ham and the fact that I’m trying to watch my sodium intake.  I’m not a bit salt person, anyway.
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded cheese – I could not find shredded Swiss, so I bought a block and shredded it myself.  I ended up with about two cups, and frankly, I thought the extra cheese enhanced the flavor.
  • There’s also no mention of meat in the original, so I added the ham to make it more of a centerpiece than a side dish.

The original recipe reads:  “Broil 3 – 4 inches from heat for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown.”  I wasn’t going to go through all of that so I set the oven on high (I actually had it hotter than listed above), and baked it until the cheese started cooking.

As I said, this proved to be a big hit last night, so I’ll probably make it again and further tamper with the recipe.  I just need to now figure out what kind of bread would work with this.

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