What do a Tony-award-winning musical and dinner have in common? Potatoes. The oven that shorted out on me at the beginning of the cold weather season has been replaced. I asked my guys what should be the first thing we make in the new oven. “Something good,” my little guy said. His brother indulged me with a more direct answer. “Funeral potatoes!”
They both love the dish from one of my Cook’s Country magazines. It is a staple of Mormon menus. If you have never heard of funeral potatoes, (I had never heard of it until my magazine landed in the mailbox), you can read more about it here in The New York Times Dining section.
The food writers at America’s Test Kitchen reworked this dish made with a can of cream-of-something soup. They swapped out the heavy, creamed soup for a combination of chicken broth and half and half. I start with a mix of butter and flour. I alternate between the chicken broth and whole milk. I save the half and half for the end.
Thyme is also added. The original recipe called for sour cream. I reduced the sour cream until I realized we like it better without it. A splash of half and half at the end.
This is where my young kitchen helpers come in handy. They are more alert than mom is and can catch mistakes. Like the fact that I bought french vanilla flavored half and half by mistake. My older guy noticed it as we were about to add it to our sauce. Nice save.
This potato dish uses frozen hash browns. We like Ore Ida. Do you know where the name Ore Ida comes from? The name represents the states where the potatoes are harvested. Oregon and Idaho.
Everything is poured in a baking dish. More thyme. Chunks of Vermont Cheddar. I can only hand over small amounts of cheese at a time to the guys. They eat half the cheese and add half to the funeral potatoes before it gets to the oven.
My guys love the hash browns baked in a creamy sauce. The chunks of cheese melt into the potatoes with a hint of thyme. Their favorite part is the crunchy topping. Eating it and making it. This is where the tang of sour cream flavor is added. Sour cream and onion potato chips crumbled by some six and ten-year-old expert hands.
The Guys’ Funeral Potatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup haf and half, room temperature
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 cups frozen hash browns
1 cup of shredded Vermont Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream and onion potato chips (not ridged)
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and flour to make a roux, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, then some milk. Add thyme. Keep slowly adding broth and milk. Simmer, stirring mixture, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add half and half.
- Add hash brown and stir to coat. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Off heat, add in Vermont Cheddar and mix well.
- Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and top with crumbled sour cream and onion potato chips. Bake until the topping starts to brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes and serve.