Cheese Potato Casserole

ALL CREDIT FOR THIS ONE goes to my mom. This cheesy potato concoction was so beloved that for the family gatherings of my youth, one only needed to say that Rosie was bringing “her potato casserole” and everyone knew what was coming, and that it meant we were having “the ham meal”, and to save room for seconds.

This, to me, is the forerunner of the ever-popular “funeral potatoes” – which is so named because it’s the kind of big dish one can easily throw together to feed a multitude of mourners in a church basement after the memorial service. I say it’s a forerunner only because I learned of so-called funeral potatoes a good two decades after this was our family’s go-to recipe.

I don’t know where my mom got the recipe, or whether she just made it up, but regardless, it first appeared in print in the Faith Lutheran Church cookbook of 1976:

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It will come as no surprise that I have modified both ingredients and instructions. So, based on this recipe, here is my take on

Rosemary’s Cheese Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

6-8 medium white or russet potatoes

one medium onion, minced

A generous half-pound of grated cheeses – longhorn, colby, sharp cheddar.

A slice of bread, or a handful of saltine crackers, or a 1/4 cup of bread crumbs

A stick of butter, melted

About 1/2 cup milk or cream

1/2 – 3/4 cup corn flakes, cruhed

Paprika and/or chives, for fancy (optional)

HOW TO

Spray a large casserole (9×13 pan or equivalent) with cooking spray.

(This will feed however many of your people will crush a casserole that size. Four? Eight? Twelve? Two? Do you want to have leftovers? That’s between you and your God. I make no assumptions and I don’t judge.)

Peel potatoes and cut into medium, bite-sized cubes. Place in large saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil and gently boil until fork pierces potato but they aren’t mush. Drain potatoes in colander.

While potatoes are cooking, in a large mixing bowl, place minced onions, shredded cheese (you can shred your own right into the bowl, or purchase it already shredded), the bread (or crushed crackers or bread crumbs – or some combination thereof, whatever you happen to have handy), plus salt & pepper. When potatoes are drained and cool, dump into mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Transfer mixture into that pan you greased. Pour the milk evenly over top to ensure coverage. Then do the same with the melted butter. Top with crushed corn flakes. Gently press down with the back side of a turner. Sprinkle paprika and/or dried chives over top if desired (it’s for pretty, not for taste).

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour, until potatoes yield to fork and you can her things bubbling in there. Cheese will be melty and corn flakes will be golden (more so than usual).

This is not kitchen chemistry, it’s throwing some stuff together and baking it. Adjust any ingredient to your preference. You can scale this – one potato per person plus one extra, then round up or down pro rata with the other stuff. Except don’t reduce the butter. Or the corn flakes. Or do, if you want. (I told you I don’t judge, and i mean it.)

This dish pairs well with a baked ham and that green bean casserole everyone loves. (For Thanksgiving, I made this scratch version of the green bean thing – give it a try if you have time and feel spunky.)

Alas, this blog is more about the recipes than the photos. That’s because I usually write these up after the fact. But, here’s a shot of what’s leftover from Christmas dinner. I’d say I didn’t add enough milk, and could have cut the potatoes smaller. But regardless, it was pretty tasty.

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4 thoughts on “Cheese Potato Casserole

  1. About a year after your dad and I were married we went to a picnic of one of his fraternity brothers and his wife on the Sunbury side of the Susquehanna River, well north of Liverpool. Wife served the potatoes and we were hooked. I always liked it because it is very forgiving in amounts so in case somebody does not, say, care for a lot of onion.

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