Ads from Walmart for frozen funeral potatoes have been popping up in people’s Facebook feeds and confusing many folks – unless they’re from Idaho or Utah, where they’re a church staple.
The cheesy, creamy, carby side dish is considered traditional Mormon fare. It’s commonly served at church socials and – as the name suggests – funerals.
While people across the rest of the country – except for pockets of the Midwest and South – are trying to figure out why this mysterious if not morbid-sounding dish is showing up in their feeds, lots of people around these parts are having a good laugh.
On social media, folks familiar with the casserole are calling it “absolutely amazing” and “the ultimate comfort food.”
Others are calling ads for the product “weird,” “bizarre,” “disturbing” and “off-putting” – and asking if they are “real” or a “joke.”
The hot dish is made with hash browns or shredded or cubed potatoes, cheese and sour cream. It’s often garnished with crushed corn flakes or, sometimes, potato chips.
Walmart is selling a 13.6-ounce pouch of frozen funeral potatoes from Augason Farms for $9.98. This makes a 9-by-13 casserole to serve 12. Instructions on the Augason Farms website include “just add water” and “top with cheese.” The product has a shelf-life of 18 months.
Or, make your own.
Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a five-star rated version – level: easy – that’s likely seen a boost in its Google analytics this week.
And Spokesman-Review reporter Kip Hill has a recipe for the hash brown casserole his mom makes. It’s a lot like funeral potatoes. But the more generically named dish might sound nicer at Easter or Thanksgiving or another larger gathering.
By Ree Drummond, Food Network’s Pioneer Woman
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
One 28- to 32-ounce bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
2 cups kettle-cooked potato chips
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Take the potatoes out of the freezer while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, then melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in it. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to incorporate. Cook for a minute or 2 to cook out the raw flour flavor, but do not let it color. Whisk in the milk, making sure to get out all the lumps. Add the broth and whisk again if there are still lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the Monterey jack, sour cream and cheddar. Add the hash brown potatoes and mix everything together. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small pan. Put the potato chips and Parmesan in a bowl and crush the potato chips. Pour in the melted butter and toss to coat. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the potatoes.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until golden brown on top and bubbling around the edges, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Hash Brown Casserole
This recipe comes from Spokesman-Review reporter Kip Hill, who got it from his mom. She found it on a bag of frozen hash browns at the grocery store in Missouri.
2 pounds frozen hash browns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups cornflakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine hash browns, salt, pepper, onion, soup, milk, sour cream and cheese. Mix well and spread into the baking pan. Press down evenly with spatula. Crush cornflakes in a zip-close bag. Pour melted butter into bag and mix well. Spread cornflake mixture over casserole. Bake at least 45 minutes, longer if desired (watch for browning around the edges).