top of page

A potluck, by any other name

I love potlucks. Since I am Methodist born, Methodist bred, I have been around potluck gatherings all of my life. Methodists are big on potlucks.

When I was growing up, we always called them covered dish suppers. I think that may be a regional thing. In the south, “covered-dish supper,” or “covered-dish dinner” is (or was) a more common term for the gathering of folks for a meal in which the attendees bring a dish of their choosing for all to enjoy.

Other names I have heard include bring-and-share, bring-a-plate, dish-to-pass, or fellowship meal. Whatever name is chosen for this fun gathering to eat and share, it is a very popular and good way to interact and get to know people. Eating is a very sociable thing, and most people are very comfortable visiting around a dinner table.

I have converted to calling this “potluck” instead of “covered dish” because I have been here in California so many years now that I figure I must use the terminology of the region I call home.

I heard that in 2016 Arizona passed a law that finally made it legal to have potlucks. Before that, potlucks were not exempt from health department inspections unless it was held in a work place.

Churches and schools could not hold potlucks without the risk of fine or arrest. (Give me a break!)

Potlucks, or whatever you may want to call these wonderful feasts, are very popular for churches, family gatherings, workplaces, neighborhood gatherings, and city park parties.

At the Madera Tribune, the staff has a potluck every month. We have a great time at these events, and we get to taste some great dishes. I have some standard dishes I like to make for potlucks. Unless there is a particular theme or specific dish I am asked to provide, I stick with a group of tried and true recipes I have.

One of my favorites to make is called “5 Can Casserole.” It is by far the easiest recipe I know, and it is always a hit. I will share it with you now, in case I haven’t already written it in one of my prior articles.

I fix this recipe at home sometimes, but for potlucks, I usually double the recipe, and that seems to work well. The basic recipe consists of six ingredients, even though the recipe indicates only five. The sixth ingredient is what goes on top, crushed potato chips. You will need one can each of chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, evaporated milk, and Chinese noodles. Drain the chicken and mix together the contents of all five cans. Put in a glass baking dish. Crumble potato chips and put on top, and then put into an oven at 350 degrees, Bake until bubbly.

Sometimes I may mix in some additional ingredients, such as pepper or water chestnuts. The cook can be as creative as desired, but the basic recipe is delicious.

Fix a 5 Can Casserole today. Feed it to your friends and family. I’m pretty sure they will like it, and then you will know what to fix for your next covered dish dinner. Let’s see how many 5-Can-Casseroles will be there.

Have fun!

— My love to all,


• • •

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

— Lamentations 3:22-23

bottom of page