Monday, November 19, 2012

An Irish Wake for a Side Dish.

One of my earliest posts was about a Utah style side dish called Funeral Potatoes; named because it was a staple at after funeral get-togethers. While this dish tastes much better using freshly shredded potatoes, and when is fresh not best, but, depending on circumstances, a bag of frozen will just have to do. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming, making room in the freezer for the turkeys, yes turkeys as I have to roast more than one, I found bags of frozen potatoes and was going to make the Funeral Potatoes. "Was" was the operative word at the time.

Taking time to actually read the bags, I found they were O'Brien potatoes; diced potatoes mixed with diced onions and bell peppers. They're a very good mixture, but not exactly what I was hoping to use; until the light bulb went off and the cooking mad scientist came forth. By the way, I found I didn't have any sour cream in the refrigerator, so again I had to compensate in some way. There was heavy cream left over from the ganache I had made for the chocolate cheesecake. Oh yes, my mind was whirling with possibilities now. No regular cheddar cheese, but a block of extra sharp Vermont white cheddar; this was going to be good!

I didn't use the corn flake topping either; hubby and I have found that we simply don't care for it.  It tends to become soggy, and doesn't reheat very well either.  As you compare the recipe for funeral potatoes to the wake potatoes, you'll notice the differences I've incorporated.  Oh, the name Wake Potatoes; simply O'Brien is a good Irish name, and to keep with the idea of serving at an after funeral get-together, and the Irish do have some wonderful wakes; well there you have it, "Wake Potatoes".   You can also add some type of cooked meat or poultry to the recipe to make a complete meal instead of just a side dish.

Do you have to use frozen pototoes?  Of course not!  Just use the equivalent (6 1/2 cups), of parboiled diced potatoes; adding a half cup each of diced onion, green bell pepper and red bell pepper.

So let me introduce you to "Wake Potatoes".

Wake Potatoes


2 (14.75) oz cans Cream of Chicken soup
½ cup butter
½ cup milk
1 (8 oz) bar extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 (26 oz) bags O’Brien potatoes; defrosted and drained


Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, medium-high heat, bring the soup, butter and milk to a low boil; whisk in the cheese, cream and black pepper until cheese is thoroughly melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.

Spread one bag of potatoes into the dish and evenly spread half the cheese sauce over them; repeat with second bag and remaining sauce. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

A half hour before needing to bake set the dish on the counter to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F; remove plastic wrap and cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes before removing foil; bake an additional 15 minutes. Let casserole rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

*Option: mix 1 cup crumbled bacon, crumbled sausage, ground beef, diced ham or diced chicken to each layer of potatoes for a complete meal casserole. All proteins have been precooked before addition to potatoes.

Mary Cokenour

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