Join intern Virginia on her journey to discover how different regions of the US use local cheeses to improve local cuisine. From Vermont cheddar to Wisconsin colby and on to California Monterey jack, she’ll hit the iconic cheese destinations of America and introduce you to regional delicacies and recipes along the way. If you missed it, don’t forget to read last week’s post on Texas Nachos .
This week on Regional Cheese Cuisine we head to the “West” which happens to claim seven beautiful states that I know very little about. From Montana to New Mexico, I was at a loss for a cheesy food that was unique and stand-out. I was just about to write a post on throwing cheese on an Idaho baked potato when Grant, our resident West-coast know-all, stumbled across funeral potatoes.
Let me begin by saying that I had never heard of funeral potatoes, and they seemed a bit morbid until I realized they are the ultimate comfort food, in more ways than one. This cheesy, au gratin potato dish has become synonymous with Utah and the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), more commonly known as Mormons.
Though the origin of funeral potatoes has been lost to history, many people associate it with the LDS church. For many years LDS relief societies have been preparing the dish to comfort grieving families after a loved one’s funeral. The importance of the dish does not come from its history, the ingredients used, or its expense, but from the love and compassion that is associated with the dish. More than any dish I’ve researched thus far, the variation and the meaning behind funeral potatoes makes it unique and special. Funeral potatoes are important because every bite of cheese filled potato goodness brings comfort to any belly and heart.
It should be noted that funeral potatoes are not only for funerals but can be served at any time. Though they started as a dish created for after funeral gatherings, they can now be found as a common side dish. I’ve been told they are best served with ham, rolls, salad dripping with ranch dressing, and green Jell-O.
This is the quintessential version of funeral potatoes. The potatoes are covered in cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and cheese, and the whole dish is topped with the unmistakable crunch of corn flakes.
This is a quick and dirty version of funeral potatoes, but no less delicious because of it. Diverging from the standard cheddar-only cheese component, this recipe advises a mix of cheddar and Gruyere for added complexity.
This ooey, gooey three-cheese version of funeral potatoes has upped the cheesy factor to the extreme. Extra-sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and a whole cup of American cheese makes this version the cheesiest comfort food around.
As if funeral potatoes weren’t simple enough, here is a recipe to make them in a crock pot. This dump-and-go method is perfect for travel and potlucks.
This week’s question: What is your favorite cheesy comfort food? When do you usually eat it? Post your answer in the comments section by Wednesday, November 26, 2014 for a chance to win a FREE issue of culture magazine! You must be located within the continental US to be eligible to win. Good luck!Photo Credit: Featured image courtesy of Simply So Good