Mormon Funeral Potatoes

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Funeral potatoes*… I couldn’t resist the name of these. My mother would have loved this, it has her favourite culinary ingredients in it – soup and crisps – and definitely would have been considered the height of sophisticated cooking in the 1970’s. However I have changed two of the ingredients because frozen hash brown potatoes, definitely not the same thing as the odd little triangle things we can buy, is not available in the UK and the other (condensed tinned soup) is a substitute for a white sauce and we can all make a white sauce. Honestly, we can. To replicate the frozen potato I reckoned that this would be very similar to the grated potato you use for rösti. So that’s what I’ve done.

A lot of recipes tell you to mix parmesan into the topping but I’m not keen on toasted parmesan, I prefer cheddar so that’s what I used. It does need good strong flavoured cheese so use whatever you like. I ended up using a mix of extra strong cheddar, some parmesan and the end of a piece of Stilton. And I think you could take it further – add some chopped ham, or smoked mackerel perhaps and a bit of mustard. Or some chopped gherkins.

The verdict from H was ‘This is nice. Tastes a bit like the middle of a cheese and onion pie’ And indeed it does.

You will need an oven proof baking dish, lightly buttered. This amount would serve 4-6 people as part of a meal.

4 baking potatoes
1 small onion, finely diced
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder or a crumbled chicken stock cube
200g creme fraiche
Seasoning
150g strong flavoured cheese – or a mix of cheeses, grated
Salted Kettle Chips – about half a large bag

Put the whole, unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring up to the boil. Then simmer for about 20-25 mins until they are just tender enough to poke with a knife. Do not cook until completely soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Once the potatoes are cool melt the butter in another saucepan and fry the onion gently until softened. Tip in the flour and stir into the onion and butter mixture. Then add the milk in two batches, whisking briskly each time. Once the milk is in, add the stock powder or cube and allow to simmer over a low heat for 2 or three minutes before adding the cheese. Stir it all together then turn off the heat and allow the cheese to melt for a few moments before whisking in the creme fraiche. Taste and season.

Grate the potatoes on the coarse side of a box grater straight into the buttered baking dish. You can pull the skins off before doing this if you prefer but I found that they mostly just fell off anyway. Discard any skins which don’t go through the grater.

Pour over the cheese and onion sauce and throughly mix into the potato. You may not need all of the sauce**

Crush up the Kettle chips and scatter over the top of the dish** then scatter with a little more grated cheddar if liked.

Bake at in the top half of a 190ºC oven for approximately 35-40 mins or until browned and bubbling. When it comes out of the oven it will be going at quite a rate so allow the dish to sit and settle for 10 mins before eating. I sprinkled mine with some cayenne pepper for a bit of spice, paprika would do perfectly well if you don’t like heat.

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*This dish is so called because it is often served at funerals in the Mormon community in the US

**In one of those marvellous twists of fate it would appear that any leftover sauce makes and excellent dip for any leftover Kettle Chips. Kismet. You are most welcome.

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