Some of my vegan friends might find this recipe cringe-worthy, because in fact, funeral potatoes, vegan or not, are sort of a culinary abomination.
A tasty, tasty culinary abomination.
My friend Doug Gibson posted a link on Facebook to a NY Times article featuring Mormon Cuisine as a cooking style that had finally come into its own. I’m not LDS myself but being a Utah native, descended from actual Utah Mormon pioneers, I read the article with some pride. I realized how much I missed the cheesy, creamy potato dish dubbed “funeral potatoes” because it is a staple at funeral dinners provided by the LDS Relief Society. Doug pointed me to a recipe from About.com, and I set out to veganize it. Challenge accepted.
This recipe isn’t astounding or all that creative – I used vegan cheese shreds, ready-made sour cream substitute, and came up with a thick gravy to replace condensed cream of chicken soup. But it really goes to show that being vegan doesn’t mean giving up even the most comfortable comfort dishes.
(Well. Except that green jello substance with the shredded carrots… face it though, as interesting as it looks to suspend large carrot particles in flubber, you can only veganize things that technically constitute food in the first place.)
Anyway, the vegan version of funeral potatoes is considerably lower in fat and calories, just considering the lack of dairy cheese and sour cream. I also omitted half a cup of butter that was optional in the original recipe. On the other hand, if you’re fretting about every calorie you’re eating, it’s probably a good idea to just relax and enjoy a bowl of funeral potatoes anyway. You can feel great that this equally delicious version doesn’t have any calories that come from chickens or dairy cows.
6-8 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
In place of condensed cream of chicken soup:
2 cups unsweetened play soy or other alternative milk
3 or more TBSP vegan chik’n broth powder (locally, go to Good Earth for that)
2 TBSP cornstarch or arrowroot powder, dissolved in a little soy milk or water
1 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)
1 bag (2 cups) Daiya shredded cheddar cheese substitute
1/4 cup grated onion
Salt and pepper to taste. If you’re not using low-sodium broth powder, you probably won’t need more salt.
For topping (optional):
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes. Crushed saltine crackers also work
2-3 TBSP Olive Oil to coat the cornflakes or saltine crumbs
- Cook the potaotes:
You can bake them in the oven, wrapped in foil for 30-45 minutes until tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Or you can completely cheat like I do and microwave them. Poke them with a fork or knife in a few places to let the steam escape and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes at a time until they are tender.
Set aside to cool.
- Make the chik’nish gravy:
Dissolve the broth mix in the soy milk and bring to almost a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
Pour in the cornstarch or arrowroot mixture, and continue to heat until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool
- Dice the cooked, cooled potatoes
- Stir together the gravy, sour cream, cheese shreds, onion and salt and pepper.
- Fold the potatoes into the mixture
- Pour into a 9×13 casserole dish
- Toss a little oil into the cornflakes or saltine crumbs to coat, and sprinkle over potato mixture.
- Bake for 30 – 45 minutes until hot and bubbly