One of my favorite things about fall weather is digging out all of my favorite oven recipes. You know the ones, those cooked at high oven temperatures that we avoid when the weather is hot and humid. This scalloped potato recipe happens to be one of my favorites. Over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit to lower the fat content so I may indulge more than a few times a season 🙂 What gives them the “weeknight” title, you ask? Well, let me tell you – the cook time is shortened thanks to a “pre-cook” on the stove. A short simmer [10 minutes] dramatically shortens the oven time [a mere 15 minutes!]. The high heat really helps. You still get tender, creamy, layered potatoes and a delicious crunchy top. I go the extra mile, and add cheese to the top. So I guess, technically, these are Au Gratin potatoes. However, you can certainly omit the cheese if you want to reduce the calorie content even more.
Note: **The quick cooking of this dish relies on even cutting of the potato slices, 1/8″. You can use  a food processor fitted with a 1/8″ slicing blade;  a mandoline set at 1/8″, my preferred method; or  a steady hand and a good sharp knife.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion, small dice
2 teaspoons minced garlic, [about 2 medium cloves]
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 pounds [about 5 medium] russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup chicken broth [use low sodium canned for ease]
1 cup fat-free half and half
2 bay leaves
4 ounces [1 cup] shredded cheddar cheese [I used an apple-wood smoked white cheddar]
Adjust oven rack to middle of oven; heat oven to 425°F.
Prep/chop/slice onion, garlic, thyme and potatoes.
Place potatoes in a large bowl and pour half & half and chicken broth over top to help avoid discoloration.
Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.
Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
Add potatoes, chicken broth, half & half and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are almost tender [you will be able to pierce a potato slice with a paring knife with the slightest resistance], about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Transfer mixture to a 8×8 square baking dish, or other 1 1/2 quart dish; sprinkle with cheese, dispersing evenly.
Bake until sauce is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow to stand/cool 5-10 minutes before serving.