Regional recipes of various cuisines have always been of interest to me. The small fundraising paperback cookbooks often compiled by church groups or Junior League ladies are nothing short of a treasure chest for comfort food recipes. They often reflect the cultures and customs of the predominant ethnic or religious groups in the area.
This delicious artery clogging recipe shows up consistently in many of those regional cookbooks. Called Funeral Potatoes, it seems to span both sides of the United States. There’s an ongoing feud between Utah Mormon cooks and Midwest Lutheran cooks regarding the origins of this one. Called Funeral Potatoes by both groups the recipe will always call for one or two cans of condensed canned cream soup. The legend from both groups will say this recipe was born of actual custom surrounding funerals where covered casseroles were often taken to the home of the bereaved family for consumption after the funeral. These days it’s just as common for holiday meals and any other time an event calls for a quick to assemble, easy to transport dish that can feed a large number of folks.
The most common version will call for frozen hash browned potatoes in the recipe but I think using potatoes you par cook for this recipe are far better. And while you could also go all Alton Brown by making your own cream sauce for the canned soup called for in this recipe, this really is one time where you can get away with using a can of soup without shame. It’s not the same without the can of soup.
4 lbs Yukon Gold or round red potatoes
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
8 ounces sour cream
¼ cup milk
1 can condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup
4 green onions, finely minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Boil the potatoes till nearly cooked through, they should still be slightly firm when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife and set aside to cool. This can be done a day ahead, just refrigerate the cooked potatoes till needed.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, reserving 1 cup of the grated cheddar. Coarsely grate the cooled potatoes and spread evenly in a 9 x 12 buttered baking dish. Pour the cheese mixture over making sure it combines with the grated potatoes. The recipe can once again be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap to bake the next day at this point if desired.
When ready to bake, sprinkle the reserved grated cheddar over the top of the room temperature mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until cooked through and bubbly.