Citizens, my wife’s grandfather sadly passed away a month ago at the advanced age of 94 – a wonderful man who will be sorely missed. My sister and her family have lived in Utah for more than a decade now and I decided that it was time to draw a recipe connector between these two disparate instances.
Thus, the Mormon recipe for funeral potatoes!
As noted on gastroobscuara.com:
A casserole of cheesy, corn flake–topped tubers offers comfort to Mormons in mourning.
Every culture embraces food in times of mourning. The Amish bake raisin pie. Ancient Phrygians made beer and lamb stew. Mormons cook up funeral potatoes.
This casserole-like dish hits all the marks of classic comfort food: shredded or cubed potatoes, cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup, sour cream, butter, and grated cheddar cheese, all topped with a crunchy layer of corn flakes. But that’s just the basic recipe; there are many variations, including versions with bacon, jalapeños, potato chips, or gruyère.
The dish is particularly popular in the United States’ “Mormon corridor” of Utah, western Wyoming, eastern Idaho, and southern California.
While no one is sure where exactly funeral potatoes originated, most sources attribute their spread to the Relief Society, a women’s organization within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One responsibility of society members was attending to the needs of the bereaved, including meals.
The long-lasting ingredients of funeral potatoes are almost always inside a Mormon’s pantry—a holdover from the Church’s post-Depression push for maintaining a three-month food supply at all times. So they’re ready to be cooked into a dish at a moment’s notice upon hearing of a community member’s passing.
But funeral potatoes aren’t just for those in mourning. Mormons also serve it at church potlucks and alongside ham for Christmas and Easter. Despite their name, funeral potatoes are a source of pride and pleasure for those who grew up eating them.
In fact, when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, it not only honored the world’s greatest athletes; it also honored its treasured dish. Commemorative 2002 Winter Olympics pins proudly feature funeral potatoes.
Citizens, it’s never wise to mess with perfection – but TFD dares the unthinkable!
Yes, I’ve made tweaks to the classic recipe, including the addition of a bit of pepper jack (because TFD loves the spicy!), romano and gruyere and lastly my great secrets: adding some crumbled fried onions and dried jalapeños to the classic cornflake topping! The addition of some canned deviled ham adds additional flavor and is a TFD secret as well!
Start with hash brown potatoes. You can bake and cool russet potatoes, then grate them. Or you do what I did, and buy pre-shedded hash brown potatoes (please do buy the kind that are not browned).
These potatoes are best served warm, but can be served at room temperature.
This is cholesterol-laden, as fattening as it gets and supremely delicious – don’t wait for a loved one to perish before making these for yourself (and them!). Of course, if you do choose to eat this on a regular basis, I assure you the fat content will send you off to meet your dearly departed very quickly indeed! 😉
Battle on – the Generalissimo