A staple of Thanksgiving meals prepared mashed, scalloped and au gratin, the potato is native to South America. It was first domesticated about 8,000 years ago, and was brought to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, becoming wildly popular. After being introduced to North America in the 1600's, it became a staple food. Idaho, which is now the leading producer of potatoes, began commercial production in the 1800's with the arrival of Mormon missionaries.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

The standard Thanksgiving meal will be served to those incarcerated across Montana's correctional facilities.

Montana Correctional Enterprises serve food across 10 different institutions and feed 2,300 to 2,500 people daily, business manager Andrew Olcott said Wednesday.

The food is cooked and chilled — not frozen — at a central kitchen in Deer Lodge before it's delivered to the facilities, Olcott said.

For the Thanksgiving meal, the food service will serve six-ounce slices of roasted turkey, a half cup of mashed potatoes, a fourth a cup of gravy, half a cup of cranberry sauce and rolls. For dessert they will get half a cup of pumpkin custard.

While most of the food was bought canned, like the cranberry sauce, the mashed potato and gravy recipe was available for those interested in preparing a big house thanksgiving meal. 

For the mashed potatoes, the recipe requires:

  • 144 gallons of water
  • 288 pounds of instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 ounce of pepper

For the gravy:

  • 39 gallons of water
  • 24 pounds of flour
  • 24 pounds of butter
  • 19 pounds of chicken base
  • 8 pounds of starch
  • About a quart of Kitchen Bouquet
  • One pound of onion powder
  • One pound of garlic spice
  • About four ounces of white pepper spice


Justice reporter for The Billings Gazette.