Saturday, December 07, 2013

Funeral potatoes

Tonight is our ward Christmas party. You know what that means.

Funeral potatoes.

Gobs and gobs of funeral potatoes, in fact. A cornucopia of 9x13" glass casserole dishes filled with potato-casserole goodness, each family recipe displaying its own individual quirk.

Not to put too fine a point on it, funeral potatoes are Mormon soul food. I suspect they're a farm-state adaptation of Janssons frestelse, the old Swedish casserole dish made with potatoes and sprats, with dairy products standing in for the fish to provide a savory, creamy note. They're made with humble, cheap and readily available ingredients, they can be scaled up to feed big crowds, and almost everyone seems to like them. Comfort food -- what my friend Ender describes as "carbs covered in fat" -- doesn't come much more pure than this, which is probably why they're often served at funerals. Thus the name.

A number of food writers mock funeral potatoes for their white-bread status. Others turn their noses up at funeral potatoes, deeming them too gauche for their refined palates. I heartily encourage this food-snob behavior. It means more funeral potatoes for the rest of us.

So how does my family make them? I thought you'd never ask.

FUNERAL POTATOES (soooo much carbs)

32 oz. bag frozen Southern-style hash browns, thawed
2 10.5-oz. cans condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup (Miss V claims mushroom is better)
1 pint sour cream
1 small onion, finely minced, or the same amount of green onions (aka scallions), finely minced
1 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese (the sharper the better, IMO)
1/4 c. melted butter
crushed cornflakes and additional butter for topping*

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. At this point you may sauté the onion in a little butter if you want to make sure the onion flavor isn't too overpowering in the final dish, but it's up to you. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except cornflakes and butter; turn into a lightly greased 9x13" glass casserole dish. Combine a generous amount of crushed cornflakes with enough melted butter to hold them together and sprinkle it over the top of the casserole. Bake 45 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

*I've also made the casserole topping using crushed Kettle brand salt and pepper potato chips and butter. I thought it tasted pretty good, but Miss V informs me that this variation is culinary heresy. For her it's cornflakes or nothin'.

My recipe book says, "Serves 8 people or 1 hungry teenage boy." Sounds about right.

Now if I could only figure out a way to make funeral potatoes diabetes-friendly. *sigh*


MarieC said...


That is all!

Soozcat said...

They are the bomb dot com!

I'm experimenting with a similar casserole, swapping out the potatoes for cauliflower. No, I don't expect it to taste exactly the same, but sometimes you get desperate for a flavor you crave.