those amazing scalloped potatoes

potato casseroleA few weeks ago I attended Brooklyn Swappers for the first time with pickled okra in my hands (which became part of a really special meal you might have read about on Emily's blog). But that's not all I brought with me. I baked up a scalloped potato casserole from the James Beard award-winning Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas. Based on the incredible feedback I got at the event, I'd say the casserole was a hit. A few people asked me for the recipe, so I've posted it below. One disclaimer -- the recipe calls for finely diced cooked country ham. I happened to have some very special ham which was ordered for a photoshoot I'd been on that week. I took home the leftovers, and it was quite perfect in this recipe. I don't think you'd go wrong with the "normal" stuff because this recipe is pretty amazing, but if you tasted my version at BK Swappers, then you got a special treat.uncooked potato casseroleHere it is uncooked, looking quite gorgeous I must say. I doubled the recipe and baked it in one of those throw-away foil pans without any trouble, so it's pretty much fool-proof. Oh, and just for fun, I'm doing a drawing for the newest cookbook by James Villas, From the Ground Up. If you live in the U.S. or Canada, just post a comment before December 20 and you'll be entered!Old Dominion Scalloped Potatoes with Country HamFrom Pig: King of the Southern Table by James VillasMakes 6 servings4 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (I used my Benriner to do this)1 cup finely diced cooked country ham1/2 cup chopped fresh chivesSalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces1 cup half-and-half1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.2. Butter a 1 1/2- to 2-quart gratin or baking dish and arrange alternate layers of overlapping potato slices and ham, sprinkling a few chives over each layer and seasoning with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over the top, dot with the butter, pour the half-and-half over the top, and bake till the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes, basting from time to time with the liquid (I didn't baste it at all, but it turned out quite nicely). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake till golden brown, about 10 minutes longer.3. Serve piping hot directly from the dish. (Needless to say, mine wasn't piping hot after transporting it to the event in Brooklyn. Trust me, it's quite awesome at room temperature.)