How Did This Potato Dish Get Its Eyebrow-Raising Name?

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We were in the frozen food aisle of our local market when my son asked if we could have funeral potatoes for dinner that night. We got a curious look from the woman at the next freezer.It’s an eyebrow-raising name. Also, the boy asking for this dish sounded full of enthusiasm and hope that the requested funeral potatoeswould be served at hisdinner table in a few hours.

Funeral potatoes are a staple in Mormon kitchens as a casserole that can be offered along with other easy-to-prepare dishes after funeral services. Mormons take great pride in having a well-stocked pantry and a dish like funeral potatoes can be prepared with pantry staples that include ingredients likepotatoes, onions, a can of cream soup, sour cream,cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.

There was a keen interest in food rooted in Mormon traditionduring the last Presidential election, when it seemed possible that Mitt Romney would bringhis Mormon taste for food to the White House. You can read more abouthow a new generation is embracing Mormon cuisineat The New York Times here.

The potatoes can either be cooked and cooled overnight or prepared with frozen hash browns. If you’re using potatoes that you cook yourself they need to cool and be refrigerated at least overnightto be the right texture to make the funeral potatoes. Julia Moskin has a recipe over at the Times where she uses cheddar, a nutty Gruyere,and a generous amount of chopped chives scattered on top of the melted cheese.

Funeral potatoes are usually topped with either some crushed cornflakes or potato chips,with some melted butter drizzled over them to help with browning in the oven.Some versions skip thetopping of cornflakes or chips.

The chefs at America’s Test Kitchen put an interesting spin on their funeral potatoes by cutting the amount of cream with some chicken broth and using crushed sour cream potato chips on topto echo the sour cream baked in the casserole.

The advantage in using frozen hash browns for funeral potatoesis that it cuts prep time and makes it a dish you can have on the dinner table inunder an hour.

The people of Utahhave their ownfamily versions of funeral potatoes. You can see some of their recipes here.

It’s like the stuffing at Thanksgiving. You want the recipe that you were served as a kid and loved.

Alice Knisley Matthias is a mom of two boys who love to trade weird-but-true facts. She writes about food, family, education and garden. She loves to cook and to grow fresh herbs, and believes in an organic lifestyle for her family in the kitchen and the garden. Her work has appeared in Eating Well, Highlights for Children, Boys’ Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, What to Expect, Cook n’ Scribble and an America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Country Cookbook. She is the author of herbinkitchen.com and a regular blogger for KIDS DISCOVER. Find Alice on Twitter: @AKnisleyMatth

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