The Rise of the Hot Dish

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hotdish

Minnesotan for casserole, almost always combining cream of something soup and canned vegetables with a significant source of starch (e.g. noodles, tater tots). Mystery meat and French fried onions might be included if you’re having a good day. Nothing to do with a hot chick.

Hey Ole, did you catch the tater tot hotdish special down at the cafe? Heckuva deal.

– from the Urban dictionary

I have a special treat for you today, boys and girls. Many recipes, and from surprising sources. Well, at least surprising to some of us who aren’t currently on top of all things Minnesotan.

I’m including two recipes from my kitchen that have grown to be part of my repertoire, Beef Enchilada Bake and Hash Brown Casserole. Both without wheat – meaning I had to workaround not using a can of Campell’s cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup in the recipe, when these are thought to be essential to a hotdish. These recipes prove Not necessarily! Each recipe uses one convenience food ingredient but a bag of shredded potatoes is a working woman’s best friend, and Rick Bayless’ line of products are also pretty attentive to all of us anti-processed food divas out there.

The rise of hotdish in our repertoire of family dinners has partially risen because of the no-wheat thing. Potatoes and rice are coming to the fore, where pasta used to be more of a middle of the week dinner standby. And also, without the ability to bring a sandwich to work for lunch, bringing a ½ brick sized chunk of heaven in tupperware to work to be heated up in the staff room microwave goes a long way to make up for that.

Not to make too big a leap here, but I am guessing that during this Primary season some of us are feeling irritation at most if not all of the candidates free ranging around the country trying to impress us. Well in Minnesota, Senator Al Franken started a friendly Hotdish Bakeoff in 2010, inviting the fellow members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation to participate. 6 out of 10 members participated that year and by 2014 and 2015, all 10 members threw a hot dish into the ring. The recipes from 2014 are on Senator Franken’s website, with Rep. Tim Walz winning in that year for the evocatively titled “Turkey Trot Tater Tot Hot Dish.”

140312HotdishFeature

Way to bring people together on both sides of the aisle! Thanks, Senator Franken! I’m excited to see what you folks will be coming up with this year.

I know I’ve had some great hot dish specimens at other people’s houses, so it would be great if anyone wants to step forward with one of their examples of Hot Dish heaven. Stay warm!

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Beef Enchilada Bake

  • 1-1/4 lbs. Ground beef – chuck or top round.
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pkg (8-0z) Bayless’ Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheese (if you use more, I will look the other way…:)
  • 4-5 oz. tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. sour cream
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ancho chili pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 13” x 9” casserole. Shred the cheeses and set aside. Saute the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown thoroughly. Drain off the fat. Add the plain tomato sauce and the spices to the beef, combine in the sautee pan and let it cook a few minutes longer.

In a second skillet, warm the first layer of corn tortillas (4 tortillas), giving them about 45 seconds per side. Place the tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish, overlapping edges so that the bottom is covered. Make a smallish opening in the enchilada sauce in the pouch, squeezing out enough to just cover the tortillas – probably one third of the pouch. Use a brush or fork to spread the sauce more or less evenly over the tortillas. Top this with a little shredded cheese, then half of the beef mixture.

Add 2-3 big spoonfuls of sour cream and spread out evenly. Add half of the shredded cheese that’s left. Repeat the layering steps, warm tortillas, add enchilada sauce, beef, sour cream and shredded cheese. Add the last of the sauce packet on top and use knife or fingers to gently mingle the top layer ingredients. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

I think chopped chilis, either fresh or canned, would be a good add. I’m planning to do that next time. Try ½ cup canned or a whole Anaheim chile diced and sauteed with the onions.

Hash Brown Hot Dish (gluten free)

hotdish1

  • 1 bag Simply Potatoes shredded hashbrown potatoes
  • 4 – 6-oz bulk pork sausage or bacon (pork or turkey)
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • 2 tsp flax seed meal
  • ½ cup – ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (optional, if using, use lesser amount of sour cream)
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste (ballpark, ½ teaspoon each)

 

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Cook the breakfast meat and set aside – if sausage, sautee in a little vegetable oil until no longer pink, if bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces and pan fry until thoroughly brown to almost crispy.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, eggs, onions, cornstarch, flax seed meal and spices.

3. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in microwave, then pour into bottom of a 13” x 9” or equivalent oval casserole, spreading butter so it coats bottom and edges. (If casserole is pyrex and it fits, you can melt the butter right in there.)

4. Place a layer of potatoes in the dish, add ½ the bacon and ½ the sour cream and cheese layer. Add the rest of the breakfast meat to the dairy mixture. Lay down the potatoes layer and top with the rest of the dairy mixture.

5. Dot the casserole with the rest of the butter.

6. Bake at 375ºF for 55 minutes. (Don’t rush this step. Check for tenderness of potatoes before declaring it done. Better to cook this one for over an hour than have underdone, less tender potatoes.)

The finished casserole, before it goes in the oven:hotdish2

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