As I type this I have a chip on my shoulder.
Ugh. It’s almost painful to think about, let alone type it out.
The Bible study that I’ve been going to every Tuesday at our church here was having a brunch, and everyone was asked to bring a brunch-y dish to share.
Easy, you know? I mean, I cook for a living. I create recipes as my job. Easy peasy. I got this.
Or do I?
So everything was going smoothly. I used my new mandolin to slice the heck out of some gorgeous sweet potatoes; I even Instagrammed it! You know it’s good when you share it on there, right?
I carefully layered them in the perfectly prepared pan. I lovingly made a large batch of bechamel and melted yummy yummy sharp cheddar into it. I tested the seasoning – perfect. I poured the sauce atop the slices of sweet potato and made sure it was all distributed evenly. I covered it with the most perfectly creased foil ever, put it in the fridge and patted myself on the back for a good night’s work.
See, I wanted to make it the night before and then bake it off right before heading to church. Y’all, I calculated the timing perfectly – this isn’t my first rodeo in brunch preparing OR gratin making.
And yet. YET. Oh me, it hurts to say this – it was a total fail! I don’t know what happened, but after the time in the oven the potatoes were still raw and the cheese wasn’t even melted yet.
Needless to say I didn’t take raw sweet potatoes to church, and luckily everyone else stepped it up and brought a ton so it was OK. But you know the moment I got home I went through the whole thing again and figured out that the refrigeration process must have totally thrown everything out of whack.
‘Cause see here – this stuff is GOOD. It’s creamy and melty and sweet and savory and drool-worthy in the highest regards. Just don’t refrigerate it unless you want to leave it in the oven for the rest of your life!
Makes 1 9-x-13 dish
- 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cleaned and dried
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 cups milk (I used nonfat cow’s milk)
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese + 1/2 cup for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400. Slice the sweet potatoes very thinly – about 1/8 of an inch – and as evenly as possible. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a mandolin for this – mine is from Walmart and was $10 and totally worth it. Once you get them all sliced up, layer them carefully in a buttered 9×13 baking dish, being sure to leave some space in between them to let the sauce seep into.
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne and whisk it all together. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds, then carefully pour the milk in while whisking and stir until completely combined. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook until it very thickly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the 2 cups of cheese; pour over the sweet potatoes. Gently shake the pan back and forth and allow the sauce to settle into the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly on top. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes at 400. At 60 minutes remove the foil, check the potatoes for doneness, and cook another 10-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let it cool for about 20 minutes before serving!