Pinellas County Potato Turbate

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Reader Susan T. attended Starkey Elementary in Pinellas County, FL, in the early 1960s. Of all the school cafeteria food she ate there, one dish was a favorite: Potato Turbate. In Latin, “turbate” means to agitate. Cafeteria-hot-dish-wise, potato turbate is a stripped-down version of shepherds pie (i.e. no vegetables)– seasoned ground beef baked between layers of whipped (turbated?) potatoes. Turns out the dish is fondly remembered by lots ’50s and ’60s-era Florida school kids. “That dish is the one we get most requests for when people write in, or do menus for school reunions,” says Dolores McCoy, a longtime nutrition education specialist and menu planner for Pinellas County Schools. She says school cafeterias still serve Potato Turbate—but updated to include more vegetables. Here’s the original recipe below. (And click here for the “updated” version.)

Makes 10 servings

Meat Filling Ingredients

  • 1 lb plus 12 oz ground beef
  • 3/8-cup onions, ground
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 ¼ tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. flour
  • 2 ½ Tbsp water
  • 1 cup beef stock, or ½ tsp beef extract combined with water to make 1 cup
  • 1 ¼ tsp Kitchen Bouquet (brown meat seasoning), optional

Whipped Potatoes Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup dehydrated potato granules
  • ¼ cup dry milk
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter, melted
  • Paprika to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare beef filling: Brown beef lightly in a saute pan. Drain off and discard fat. Add onions, salt, pepper, Worchestershire sauce and garlic to pan. Cook five minutes. Mix flour and water and stir into meat. Add beef stock or beef extract combined with water. Add Kitchen Bouquet, if using. Set aside.
  3. Prepare potatoes: Heat water to boiling. Slowly add dry ingredients to hot water. Add butter. Whip at high speed to desired fluffiness ( 2 to 3 minutes.)
  4. Assemble: Layer ½ of potato mixture into pan. Cover with ground beef mixture. Top with remaining potatoes. Drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for ½ hour until lightly browned.

10 thoughts on “Pinellas County Potato Turbate

  1. I graduated from Bogie in 1973 and Potato Turbate was one of my all time favorites. Over the years I came across the schools recipe and decided to make it……It’s just a great as I remember it and I continue making it today….Thanks for the luscious memories!!

    • My sister, Bonnie was in your class. I graduated in ’69 and used to eat 2 lunches on turbate day. Had British Lit immediately after lunch and would usually nod off during class because I was so full.

  2. Graduated 1975……..LOVED potato turbate. Only thing that would keep you on campus at lunch!! Thanks for sharing. I have my first batch in the oven right now. Hubby (also Bogie boy) will be thrilled!

  3. I attended several schools in Florida in the 60’s. The ONLY dish I remember is potato turbate. It was by far my favorite.

    We generally had it about once per week but I would have been happy with it every day. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  4. I just made some and close but not quite, the potatoes were more of a 1 to 1 mix as per the box. Also I used about 5 cups or close to double the recipe and still could have used more potatoes.

  5. Class of ’66 Northeast Vikings. We loved this dish so much that Mom made it for us at home. I’ve been feeding to my family ever since. Forgot about the worcestershire and beef stock, but substituted cream of mushroom soup concentrate, and was always delicious – add a green veggie and fruit for dessert and you’ve got all your food groups!

  6. My mother graduated from Seminole High in 1972 and I was raised on potato turbate. I had no idea it was a Pinellas County school food until I read this article! I was raised in Citrus County and we didn’t have this at school, but my mom always made it for us and now my sisters and I all make it!

  7. Graduate 1975 went to all pinellas county schools and enjoyed this dish the best of all. I have tried to duplicate it but not much luck, thank you for thr recipe it will be on the menu in my house next week. I can’t hardly wait.♡♥♡

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