Like many folks, I grew up believing I didn’t like stinky blue cheese. Never ate blue cheese dressing. Never ordered a restaurant dish claiming blue cheese as an ingredient. And then one day I was asked by someone I was staying with (and cooking for) to make blue cheese potatoes.
Yuck, I thought. But I did my best to come up with something and boy did I surprise myself. I loved them! Rich and creamy. Slightly salty from the blue cheese. Pure comfort food and a seriously tasty accompaniment to almost any meat — London broil, steak, lamb, prime rib are all enhanced with blue cheese potatoes by their side.
And to top it off, they’re actually quite easy to make and incredibly “un-fussy” about exact measurements or cooking times and temps. So here’s how I do it, with some notes about variations and alternatives that also work. Think of this less as a “recipe” and more as a “general technique.” (And if you don’t like “reading about” food — in which case what in the world are you doing on this blog?!? — you can skip right down to the bottom of the post for the actual “recipe.”)
Here’s the main ingredients: potatoes, cream cheese, milk or cream, and blue cheese. (And, yes, I realize the cream cheese isn’t in this picture. It makes an appearance a little further down the page!) I also usually include something “onion-y”—often sliced or chopped onions that have been sautéed. But the most recent time I made this I knew I’d be serving to some folks that aren’t especially crazy about lots of onion, so I just used a bit of dried chopped onion for a subtle flavor and it worked fine (not to mention being way easy!) so feel feel to do that!
Now, the extremely observant amongst you will notice I have crumbled “Blue Cheese” and also “Gorgonzola” cheese in my ingredients. What’s the difference, you ask? Blue cheese (or bleu cheese, as you often see it) is a broad category of cheese that includes the telltale stripes or spots of blue-ish mold (from Penicillium) and Gorgonzola is a specific variety of blue cheese, made in a specific region of Italy and always from cows’ milk. In theory there are specific albeit subtle differences in flavor, but I can’t say that I noticed all that much. Either will work just fine in this recipe. And certainly feel free to buy a wedge and crumble it yourself!
You can also use pretty much any type of potato here, too. I opted for these medium sized red-skin potatoes for simplicity—no peeling and easy to chop—and also they keep a slightly firm-ish texture even when well cooked. Yukon gold or plain old russet would work fine too. I used this entire 3 pound bag to make a good-sized casserole that made around 10 servings. You could certainly cut the recipe in half for a smaller amount or make the full thing and divide into two baking dishes and freeze one for later.
Remember how I said this dish was very flexible? Well, that goes for cutting the potatoes up as well. Sometimes I slice them, maybe 1/4″ thick, so they look more like scalloped potatoes. Often I cut them into chunks as I did here. Suit yourself! They taste great either way.
Ideally I think you should steam the potatoes to keep them from becoming waterlogged, but, hey, you don’t have a steamer? Just boil those chopped/sliced taters and it’ll all be fine. Timing will depend a lot on how you cut them (and we’re at high altitude which always seems to make things take longer) so the best thing I can say is start poking them fairly early, maybe after 20 minutes, and go from there. I actually ended up steaming these for a good 40 minutes. You want them very tender but not falling apart. (If you’re using dried onion, I like to add it to the potatoes as they steam, but if you’re boiling I would just add the dried onion to the sauce, otherwise the little bits are likely to be poured off as you drain the potatoes.)
While the potatoes are cooking, make your sauce. This is one of the few things I always cook in the microwave since it eliminates the issues of possibly scorching, but if you’re a die-hard non-micro-user, you could readily enough make this in a saucepan on the stove. You’ll just have to pay it more mind and stir more often.
Put 16 ounces of cream cheese in a large microwave proof bowl. I like soft (not whipped) cream cheese for this — makes it easier to whisk — but the regular block type will work too and you can use plain or the chive and onion version as I did here. Add 8 ounces of milk. (If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, feel free to use half-and-half or even cream.)
Heat for 3 minutes and then poke at the mixture with a whisk to see how much the cream cheese has softened. You’ll likely need another 2 to 3 minutes (at least) before you can whisk it all together into a smooth sauce. This is a good time to add any additional seasonings you’d like. I usually add a good sprinkle of salt (hold back a little until you’ve added your blue cheese since it’s salty-tasting), several grinds of black pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a dash of something hot — crushed red pepper flakes, or a little dribble of sriracha. You don’t want to create an actual “spicy” sauce that will fight with the blue cheese, but I find just a little bit of something hot will enliven the flavor without actually being distinguishable as “spicy.”
Add 8 to 10 ounces of blue cheese crumbles — I suggest a smaller amount first and then taste and adjust accordingly. Mix again. Check your seasonings — especially your salt — one last time and add any that you feel it needs.
Round about now is a good time to start pre-heating your oven, if it’s not already on for some other reason. I usually cook them at 350-degrees. Also, if you’re using real onions rather than dried, this is when you’ll want to sauté them in a bit of butter or oil.
Once your potatoes are tender, drain thoroughly and dump into the bowl with the sauce mix. (Or, alternately, pour the sauce over your drained potatoes, depending on the sizes of your various pans and bowls!) Stir gently but thoroughly until all potatoes are coated with sauce. Add the onions if you’re using sautéed rather than dried.
Spray a baking dish with oil (I love this spray bottle I keep filled with avocado oil) or non-stick cooking spray and transfer the sauced potatoes into the dish. (I just rather inelegantly dump the whole thing in, but if you’re at all unsure of your baking dish capacity, you might choose to more delicately spoon them in so as not to overflow.) I don’t know the “volume” of the dish I usually use for these, but to give you a sense of it I did measure and this dish is about 9-1/2″ in diameter and 3 inches deep. It held this amount of potatoes just about perfectly.
Inexplicably, I have no pictures at all of these last steps — either the potatoes in the baking dish or in the oven. But it’s pretty straightforward — slide the baking dish of potatoes into the middle rack of the oven and let them bake. Everything is cooked, so you’re really just letting it all come together, get nice and hot again, maybe brown the top a bit if you want. This is another of those very flexible areas — 30 minutes at 350 will work fine. So will 40 or 45 minutes, especially if you like a browner or crustier top. Cooking something else at 400? No worries, just plan to check this after 20 to 30 minutes since that’ll probably be plenty.
Fair warning — they can be a bit like napalm when you first take the dish out of the oven, so feel free to let it lurk on the counter for 5 or even 10 minutes, especially if it was in the oven a longer time or at the higher temp.
- 3 pounds potatoes (any kind is fine)
- 16 ounces cream cheese (I prefer the chive and onion variety)
- 8 ounces milk (or half-and-half or cream)
- chopped onion to taste or 1 to 2 tablespoons dried chopped onion
- 8 to 10 ounces crumbled blue cheese, any variety
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garlic powder (optional)
- Crushed red pepper flakes or drizzle of sriracha (optional)
- Chop potatoes into medium sized chunks or 1/4" slices.
- Steam potatoes until very tender but not falling apart (20 to 40 minutes). If you're using dried chopped onion, add it to the potatoes while they steam.
- Meanwhile, put cream cheese and milk into microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 2 to 3 minute increments until cream cheese is soft enough to whisk with the milk into a creamy sauce.
- Add salt and pepper, and garlic powder and red pepper if using. Whisk again.
- Add the blue cheese and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- * Preheat oven to 350-degrees or other temp as needed, see notes in narrative *
- Once the potatoes are done, drain thoroughly and add to the bowl of cream sauce (or, alternately, pour sauce over drained potatoes in their cooking pot).
- Mix gently but thoroughly so that potatoes are well coated with sauce.
- Spray baking dish with oil or non-stick cooking spray.
- Transfer potato and sauce mixture to baking dish and put on center rack of oven.
- Bake 20 to 40 minutes (see notes in narrative) until hot and bubbly and, if you like, crusty and brown on top.
- Remove from oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
- Eat and enjoy!