The Delicious Ingredient To Punch Up Potato Casserole

Nothing comforts the bereaved like Cheesy Funeral Potatoes, but of course, you don't have to be going to a funeral to enjoy this potato dish. Per Southern Living, this macabre and sorrowful-sounding potato casserole that combines our favorite tuber with cheese and "a cream-based soup, onions, butter, and a flaky, crunchy topping" was made popular by members of the Church of Latter-day Saints. However, according to LDS Living, the origins of funeral potatoes is kind of murky and the French dish known as potato au gratin could have served as the original muse. Still, potato casserole is the perfect carb-filled recipe that has become a go-to staple for potlucks, PTO meetings, and holiday gatherings across the country. 

There are plenty of variations and riffs on this rich dish. In fact, even Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, has her take on funeral potatoes, adding sour cream and parmesan cheese to the mix, along with crushed potato chips for the topping (via Food Network). But regardless of what you call this specialty or where and when you decide to eat it, Food & Wine shares there is one ingredient you should consider adding to it to really punch up the flavor of your next casserole.

Add this savory element

Food & Wine spoke to the owner of a burger joint in Salt Lake City, Utah who shared the "secret" ingredient her restaurant uses to really give potato casserole a punch of flavor. Brittini Bonomini told the publication that instead of tossing the bacon grease the next time you make a pound of bacon, keep it for your potato casserole. Bonomini said, "The secret to our funeral potatoes is bacon grease from our all-natural Applewood smoked peppered bacon." Additionally, the chef uses some locally-sourced ingredients, adding sour cream, garlic, and scallions to her casserole inspired servings. 

What does bacon grease do? Washington Post describes this savory fat as a "liquid gold." The outlet goes on to explain bacon fat adds a "smokiness" and a "velvetiness" to your recipes. Of course, if you want to add the crunchy texture of bacon to this potato casserole, you can do that as well. Trisha Yearwood swears by her recipe which does just that and uses mayo to up the creaminess of the dish.