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~ Beehive Mashed-Potato Bread-Stuffing Casserole ~

IMG_5556Back in 1974, I was introduced to this amazing side-dish casserole by my neighbor in my first apartment. Toni (Antoinette) was/is a beautiful Mexican-American woman who had just moved to Pennsylvania from San Antonio, Texas, with her Texas-cowboy husband Tom and their son Sean. I had just moved to Happy Valley from Eastern, PA, as a new bride.  We two women loved to cook and became fast friends.  I have many great memories of the two years I spent being her next door neighbor (including Tom teaching me how to shoot a cross-bow).  The first time I tasted this casserole, I fell in love with it. She served it one evening with a fall-apart-tender braised venison roast from a deer that Tom had hunted down after the Thanksgiving holiday.

IMG_5583It took me less than a minute to ask her for the recipe, which, she explained had been in her family for generations.  She was quick to add that it can be made a day or two in advance.  The bottom layer of the casserole is a basic bread stuffing, complete with celery and onions that have been sauted in butter and spices.  The celery and onions form a "sort of" middle layer.

IMG_6140The top layer of the casserole consists of dollops of super-flavorful, mashed potatoes that sometimes have white cheddar cheese added to them. The casserole is baked until the bread stuffing is browned and bubbling on the bottom and the potatoes are lightly-browned on the top. Toni explained that her grandmother named the dish "beehive potatoes" because when the butter drizzles down through the cubed bread, it is resemblant of the inside of a beehive.

Mashed potatoes?  Stuffing?  Enough for 16 people?

 All in one casserole dish?

And... it can be assembled 2 days ahead of time!?!

In 1986, when I was planning my first Thanksgiving dinner in my our new home, for our entire family, it took me less than one minute to put this make-ahead casserole on my menu. Everyone, including my mother and grandmother, asked for the recipe.  Beehive potato casserole has been on my Thanksgiving table or buffet every year since then, and, this year is no exception!

IMG_5436For the bread stuffing:

1  pound loaf potato bread, or "Wonder"-type bread, 3/4"-1" cubed

1  pound diced yellow or sweet onion

8  ounces diced celery

8  ounces butter (2 sticks)

1  teaspoon poultry seasoning

1  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole dish

IMG_5480For the mashed potatoes:

5  pounds peeled, rinsed, then cut into 1" chunks, gold potatoes

1  tablespoon salt, for seasoning water

4  ounces butter, at room temperature (1 stick)

4  jumbo eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

1  teaspoon sea salt, for seasoning potatoes

1  teaspoon white pepper

1  pound store-bought, pre-grated sharp white cheddar cheese

IMG_5438~ Step 1.  Spray a 4-quart casserole dish (not a 13" x 9" x 2", 3-quart casserole) with no-stick spray.  Prep the bread as directed, evenly distributing it in the dish as you work.  The casserole will be a little more than half full.  Set aside.  

~ Step 2.  Prep the onion and celery as directed.  Set aside.

IMG_5454 IMG_5446~ Step 3.  In a 12" skillet, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Add the onions and celery.  Adjust heat to saute, until the onion softens, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat.



IMG_5461                                        ~ Step 4. Using a large slotted spoon remove and evenly distribute the onion/celery mixture over the bread in the casserole.  The bread should be completely covered.  Drizzle any remaining butter evenly over all.  

IMG_5469~ Step 5.  Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture down into the dish, until the casserole is half full.  Set aside.

IMG_5430~ Step 6. Prep & place potatoes in an 8-quart stockpot with enough of cold water to cover.

IMG_5494~ Step 7.  Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat.  Add the 1 tablespoon of salt.  Adjust heat to a steady simmer and continue to cook, until potatoes are al dente, meaning:  cooked through but with a bit of texture left in their centers, about 8-10 minutes.

Note:  This timing is going to vary depending upon the size you have chunked your potatoes.  

IMG_5501 IMG_5496~ Step 8. Drain potatoes into a colander. Immediately return the hot potatoes to the still hot stockpot and return the pot to the still warm stovetop.  Add the butter and cheese.  Give the mixture a stir and cover the pot, until the butter has melted, about 5 minutes.

IMG_5512 IMG_5506~ Step 9. Remove pot from heat and set aside to cool about 5-10 minutes.  In 1-cup measuring container, whisk together the eggs. Uncover the pot, drizzle in the eggs and add the salt and white pepper. 

IMG_5534~ Step 10.  Using a hand-held vegetable masher, smash and mash the potatoes until desired consistency is reached.  In my house, we like them left a bit chunky in this casserole.  Take a taste!

Note:  These aren't your typical light and smooth mashed potatoes. They are going to seem thick and heavy, but, the eggs are going to make them cook up light and airy!

IMG_5539~ Step 11.  Begin scooping the potatoes onto the top of the bread stuffing mixture, evenly distributing them and mounding them slightly towards the center.  Do not press down on them.  

IMG_5544Using the side of the spoon, form decorative peaks across the surface of the potatoes.

IMG_5545Note:  At this point, casserole may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 2 days prior to baking.  Remove from refrigerator and return to room temperature (1-2 hours) prior to baking as directed.

Bake, uncovered, on center rack of 325 degree oven, 45-60 minutes, or, until bread stuffing and top of the potatoes are lightly-browned and the celery/onion mix is bubbling.

Note:  Watch the progress carefully after 45 minutes.  The bread stuffing can and will quickly go from browned to burned.  This is why I recommend the use of a clear glass casserole!

IMG_5594Beehive Mashed-Potato Bread-Stuffing Casserole:  Recipe yields 12-16 side-servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; chef's knife; 4-quart casserole dish, preferably see-through glass (not a 13" x 9" x 2", 3-quart casserole); 12" skillet, preferably nonstick; large slotted spoon; vegetable peeler; 8-quart stockpot w/lid; colander; 1-cup measuring container; fork; hand-held vegetable masher

6a0120a8551282970b015436418497970c-800wiCook's Note:  For another make-ahead potato side-dish that has been in my family for generations: ~ Tettie's Baked-Mashed-Potato Stuffing Casserole ~, can be found in Categories 4, 12 or 18.  Tettie was my Great-Aunt Mary!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


Sean -- You had VERY cool parents. Please tell your mom I said hello (I'd love to hear from her) and I am very sorry to hear about your dad. I remember your dad helping to save the roof on "The Steakhouse" -- that symbol of the community would have been a tragic loss. The place was sold several years ago, and, named after the new owners, Kelly's Steakhouse is now a VERY upscale steakhouse with other upscale menu items too. They completely remodeled (inside and out a sleek Southwestern theme), and, did keep the bull on top of the building. With all new decor, the "billiard room" is still intact & they bought the building to the right of them too and turned it into "The Bar", a more casual gathering place. They do a fantastic fancy-schmancy lunch and dinner business. Love to all & please keep in touch! ~ Melanie

Melanie, I live in south Florida since 98 love the heat all year long,mom is back in Texas but she comes and visits often she’s doing well! Dad passed about 4 yrs ago. I’ve been back up there a few times still have family in bellefonte, ( dads brother and sisters) I used to love going to the Boalsburg steak house! Is the bull still on the roof? You know dad helped them out one time and prolly saved the roof from caving in lol! I love reminiscing! I had a great child hood even as a only child, I guess because I had cool parents :-)

Chelsea -- How wonderful to hear from you. Please be sure to tell your gram (Toni) and your pap (Tom) that I said hello and would love to hear from them again. Tell them I am a grandmother too -- Jesse has a son named David. Toni (your gram) made Jesse's christening gown! Love & Happy Easter to ALL. ~ Melanie

Hi there, I have a cool story for you. I'm attending an Easter dinner party and signed up to bring beehive potatoes. When the hostess didn't know what that was she googled it, found your recipe and sent it to me to see if it was similar. Well it is! Toni who taught you this recipe is my gram Tom my Pap and Sean is my dad. Small world! Thanks for sharing!!

OMG Sean!!! How wonderful to hear from you. How are your parents? I am constantly telling stories about the Amite Apartments and Tom & Toni -- and Jim and May, their friends too. I live in Boalsburg now. Are you still local to the area? Tell me more. Much love, Melanie.

This was a great story! I was only 6 then so don’t remember a lot but your name sounds familiar though! We still make beehives about 4 times a year! Mom did good teaching this recipe to a lot of people! Was really nice reading this!

Sean Cowher

Marilyn! Yes, you answered your own question!! The butter drizzles down through the bread and provides the moisture! Oh, do-dah day!!!

Melanie, me thinks I answered my own question ~ when I sautéed the celery and onions and layered them on the bread, the butter probably adds enough moisture!
Do dah, do dah!!!!

Melanie, as I am making this side dish now, I am a little concerned it might be dry?
I don't need to pour a little chicken broth over the bread? I should trust you, but just had to ask! Going out to dinner tonight, so I'm just doing the prep and can finish it later. I hope that I'm not being a pain in the A!!!!

Marilyn! I'll be looking forward to your feedback!

Thanks! Can't wait to make it. I love that it can be done early too. I'll let you know what my "boys" think about it.

Marilyn! I most certainly would recommend it! You might decide (like I did a long time ago) to never mess with separate dishes again. It's easily cut in half too. Just use a 2-quart casserole, and, lessen the baking time just a bit. Leftovers reheat perfectly in the microwave. I am truly thankful for being reconnected to you too my dear friend! ~ Mel.

Melanie - since there is just 3 of us for Thanksgiving this year, I am going to try this recipe, instead of my Nana's "filling" recipe that I make every year. It resembles your Tettie's recipe for baked mashed potato stuffing casserole. Would you recommend I do this? It just seems silly to have all the carbs separately for just three of us.
Mostly, I am just THANKFUL for being reconnected to you!

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