Posted by: Erica Retrochef | February 18, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes

Meat last week, potatoes this week. So far it’s a real stick-to-your-ribs month here at Retro Recipe Attempts…



When I bookmarked this recipe months ago, I was struck by the bright orange color of those scalloped potatoes. At the time I assumed it was due to cheddar (or American) cheese that had been dramatically overcolored by the ad designer — one of those cases where the Dairy Board wanted their ingredient to be really highlighted in the advertisement, and the art department obliged (while rolling their eyes).

It turns out I should have read through the ingredients a little more closely.

Measure 1/4 cup flour into a small bowl; mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 cup instant skim milk powder.

In an 8-cup casserole, arrange in shallow layers 6 thinly-sliced potatoes, 1 cup minced onion and milk powder mixture; dot each layer with its share of 1/2 cup butter.

Combine 1 can (20 ounces) mixed vegetable juices and 1 cup water. Pour over potatoes. Cover. Bake in moderate oven (350°F) 1-1/2 hours. Uncover and bake 1/2 hour longer. Makes 10 servings.

That’s right — the brilliant orange color comes not from cheese, but from vegetable juice. The only dairy ingredients in this scalloped potato casserole are butter and skim milk powder. Powder.

It feels like they missed the boat on that somehow…


Buzz peeled our potatoes before assembling the ingredients for this photo.


Garlic, salt, and pepper are not a very interesting assortment of seasonings. I guess we’re going to be relying on the vegetable juice for flavor, which is a sort of scary concept since we don’t like vegetable juice.


My grandmother gave me a mandoline a couple of years ago, and it has really simplified the preparation process for anything sliced. It’s a pain to clean, so I don’t use it as much as I might — but I still get a warm happy reminder of my grandmother and her cooking whenever I need thinly sliced ingredients.


Layering everything seemed more complicated than necessary. (Plus we ran out of onion after three layers, and almost ran out of garlic-milk powder on the fourth and final one.)


I was slightly worried that the liquid would wash all the powder off our top layer, but it seemed oddly water repellant.


Once all the juice was added, it looked quite soupy. However, I expected the potatoes to soak up a fair amount of liquid while cooking.

It also looked quite yucky, but I didn’t expect that to get better.


After ninety minutes, there was even more liquid than before.


Even after another thirty, it looked pretty soupy.

I also would like to point out that, after uncovered, it had bubbled enough that there was a burnt crust of splashed juice around the edges. While this isn’t something that could affect flavor, since I just avoided getting crusty burned bits when serving, it did look quite unappealing — not a dish I would be proud to take to a potluck party, and even less something I would serve in my own home.


The camera isn’t lying — it really is that orange.

Given the shockingly orange appearance, nobody expected this to be edible, let alone particularly enjoyable. Much to our surprise, however, it did taste good! The vegetable juice gave the potatoes plenty of flavor, and since it cooked for two hours, they’d gotten an almost creamy texture. (I might have liked some cream instead of skim milk powder and butter… and perhaps some cheese on top?) There are certainly worse ways to get a serving of vegetables and potatoes.

But it still looks pretty terrible, doesn’t it?

Shelf Life Taste Test posted this on their Flickr page, also noting the delightful silliness of claiming scalloped potatoes is “easy for any party”…



  1. I really, really hate V8 juice. When I was in my late 30s, my mother decided she would cook vegetables in V8 to up the nutritional content of dishes. Not boiling the vegetables in V8 would have worked. I would have to be starving to eat that dish of potatoes and V8.

    • Viscerally, I agree with you. Whenever these recipes call for V8, my stomach starts to get antsy. However, they are surprisingly often not that bad. I am forced to admit that when it is used as an ingredient, V8 is not really as disgusting as it looks or smells.

  2. I love V8 juice, with or without vodka.

    I might mix one of these up for supper tonight. My family loves ‘taters. The grandsons have never turned down potatoes and if I mix this before they get here, they might not see that I slipped in the veg juice!

    I’m one sneaky Poppi, because I do this stuff to them all the time. And it has gotten them to broaden their likes beyond hot dogs and nuggetized everything.

  3. So it’s brought to you by the makers of powdered milk, not V-8 juice! Well, it’s a change from plain scalloped potatoes, though potatoes au gratin are still the best. I love that ad, though! There are also deviled eggs for the men-in-suits to nosh on, too…

  4. o_0 No cheese AT ALL in scalloped potatoes? I thought… that’s what it was. Cheese and potatoes… huh. This IS really orange… but at least V8 is better than the disgustingly ubiquitous tomato soup that could have been used. I might actually try this.

    • There is never any cheese in scalloped potatoes. Cheese in a scalloped-potato type dish is potatoes au gratin.

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