Christmas Day in my household (or rather, whichever household I reside in when Christmas Day rolls around because I am still sans permanent address) is a cluster f*#@. It usually involves getting up early, gulping down coffee while trying tease my hair to do something respectable, driving an hour south to see family, eating three days worth of calories in one sitting, standing around watching my little cousins open presents, then packing up, driving back, rendezvousing with step- brothers and sisters at my parents’ house and once again eating three days worth of calories in one sitting. Depending on the year, there might be a detour to see my dad off in another part of town or coming together for family portraits that never fail to remind me of the exhaustion of the day and awkward moments when I look at them throughout the year that follows. It almost makes me want enlist my brother or one of my step siblings* to pop out a few kids before next year, so we can be one of those smug families that say things like, “The grandkids / nieces / nephews are coming this year, so we’re just having a quiet day at home.” They taunt me.
*Notice, however, I exclude myself from the list of possible procreators. I provided a grandkitten. Time for the rest of the horde to step up.
If there’s an antithesis to Christmas Day and all it’s madness, it’s New Years Day. It’s what I so want Christmas Day to be. A day to sit around in my PJs, immediate family close at hand, binge-watching Netflix or digging into a new book from underneath the tree. Sure, all that laziness might be the result of a massive hangover I certainly deserve because I single-handedly worked my way through two bottles of champagne, a Maker’s Mark on the rocks, countless cigarettes and a hit, but I made it through Christmas, so I deserve to let off some steam. After all that, a big New Years brunch is certainly in order, and Green Chile Scalloped Potatoes are definitely on the docket this year.
You scoff, because you are thinking, “Excuse me ma’am, but just how do you plan on whipping up scalloped potatoes in your drunken stupor?” Simple. I make them the day before, well in advance of any revelry, I serve them with left over honey-baked ham which is always a staple of cluster f*#@ (er, Christmas) in my family, and if my college days were good for anything, it was learning how to fry an egg through a hangover-induced migraine. Happy New Year!
New Years Day Green Chile Scalloped Potatoes
This dish can be made up to two days ahead of time and refrigerated until the big event. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 and allow to warm from 15-20 minutes. Active time: 20 minutes, Inactive time: 20 minutes; serves 8-10.
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled, rinsed and slices to 1/8 inch thickness
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons “Southwest” mix*
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 5 oz can diced green chiles (I like hot but use whatever your spice tolerance allows)
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz sharp cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly browned, about four minutes. Add the garlic, Southwestern blend, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, green chiles broth and cream and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost render (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato with some resistance), about 10 minutes.
Transfer 1/2 of the mixture to a 9×11 baking dish and cover with half of the cheese. Transfer remaining potatoes and cover with remaining cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges an, about 15 minutes. Turn oven to highest broiler setting and broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool ten minutes before serving.
This “Southwest” mix isn’t really southwestern at all. While traveling in India a few years ago, my mom discovered this spice mixture from the mega-colorful-prints-store Fab India called “Chilli Oregano Spice”. (The two ‘l’s are correct.) She fell in love, we figured out how to make it and we’ve been calling it our “Southwest” mix ever since. Makes 1/2 cup salt mixture. Great rubbed on chicken or steak prior to grilling.
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 heaping tablespoons chile powder
1 heaping tablespoon garlic powder
1 heaping tablespoon oregano
Mix well and store until ready to use.