This ooey gooey comfort food is packed with rich, smoky flavour. It’s a great dish to anchor dinner any day of the week and the perfect gift to bring to a potluck. (Better bring the recipe along too, you’ll be asked for it!) Don’t count on leftovers but if by some miracle you end up with any you’ll find them just as delicious the next day.
Recipe exclusively for Cascade.
Copyright © Michael Smith, 2015
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Lightly oil a 13×9-inch (3.5 L) baking pan.
Toss the bacon along with a big splash of water into a large soup or stockpot over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the water evaporates and the bacon is fully browned and evenly crispy, 10 minutes or so. Pour the works through a strainer. Reserve the crisp bacon and return 1/2 cup of the flavourful bacon fat to the pot. Discard the rest of the fat or save it for another use.
Sprinkle the flour over the fat and stir the works into a paste. Return to medium heat and slowly pour in the milk, whisking the sauce as it heats and thickens. Briefly bring to a full furious boil, and then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Whisk in 2 cups of the smoked cheddar cheese and the thyme, paprika, salt and hot sauce. Remove from the heat.
Stir the potatoes and the crisp bacon into the sauce, coating them evenly. Transfer the works to the baking pan, nudging into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining smoked cheddar cheese evenly over the surface.
Loosely cover the works with foil that’s been coated with a light film of cooking spray. After 60 minutes remove the foil so the top can begin browning. After 90 minutes begin checking for doneness every 10 minutes or so. Bake until the potatoes are tender, the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly, reduced and thickened, up to 2 hours in total. Serve and share!