Friday, November 13, 2009

Gastronomy: Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling

My husband's ancestors emigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany prior to 1800. When I found my partner, I didn't just marry a man, but an entire Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. My first Thanksgiving with my new family showcased the Pennsylvania Dutch specialties: Cope's dried, sweet corn; endive salad with a warm, bacon-kissed dressing; slow-stewed tomatoes; and, the prized show stopper, potato filling.

Instead of a traditional bread stuffing, many of the Pennsylvania Dutch filled their turkeys with a rich and buttery bread and potato mixture. My husband’s grandmother and mother never measured the ingredients, but were kind enough to estimate the quantities and let me shadow them a few times over the years. Because of its popularity in our family, we not only stuff the turkey with potato filling, but serve it as a side in a large casserole, baked to perfection. The filling provides a wonderful accompaniment to poultry, is brilliant left over, and can be made a day ahead of time or even frozen. To top it off, using this recipe means that you don’t have to prepare both potatoes and stuffing on the same day—the Pennsylvania Dutch managed to beautifully marry the two.

Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling

5 lbs white potatoes, peeled, quartered
5-6 onions, delicately diced
1-2 sticks butter, + 2 T butter
6 slices of white bread, broken into small pieces
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 c fresh, Italian parsley, finely chopped (or 4 t dried parsley)
Milk, if necessary (usually ½ - 1 cup)
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in a large boiling pot for approximately 20 minutes, or until you can easily stick them with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, melt butter and add chopped onions. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until onions are tender and translucent. Set aside.

Drain water from potatoes; return potatoes to pot to mash. (For a chunkier texture, use a potato masher; for a fine texture, use a hand mixer, which I prefer.) To the potatoes, fold in cooked onion, broken bread pieces, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper. If too dry or stiff, add enough milk to create a light, creamy texture. Place in greased baking dish, dot with remainder of butter, and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown.

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Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 4:13 AM  

Sounds delicious and a time saver for turkey day.

Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

Ja! Es ist so gut!

Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

Das ist sehr gut! Ja! Ja!

Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

Die Kartoffelfüllung füllt mich auf! Ich habe einen großen Bauch wegen er.

Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

Ein Toast zu den Pennsylvania-Holländern! Prost!

Anonymous November 14, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

Ja ja! Ein Time-saver für Truthahntag!

james November 24, 2009 at 9:42 AM  


Leah and Sarah November 25, 2009 at 10:51 AM  

I haven't found Cope's Dried Sweet Corn in San Diego County, but you can order it online at a number of places, including one of our favorites, Zingermans:

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After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

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