CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Hotdish Heaven

MInnesota's congressional delegation.
MInnesota’s congressional delegation.

Anyone who grew up in the Midwest knows about hotdishes. And if you’re from Minnesota, you probably know that more than most.

Perhaps, that’s the reason Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken started the Minnesota congressional “Hotdish Off” back in 2011.

Wednesday, the Minnesota delegation took part in the fifth annual event in Washington, D.C. And this year, Rep. Betty McCollum came out the winner in the competition with her Turkey, Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Hotdish, unseating fellow Democrat, Rep. Tim Walz, who won the two previous cook-offs.

The contest was judged by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, Star Tribune editorial writer Jill Barcum and MinnPost reporter Devin Henry.

Here are all 10 of the recipes. Give them a try and make up your own mind about which one is the best.

Rep. Betty McCollum’s Turkey, Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Hotdish
1 pound ground turkey
2 large bunches of kale leaves
3 cups cooked wild rice
½ yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup chicken stock
½ cup milk
1/8 cup cream
½ teaspoon thyme, minced
1 package frozen sweet potato tater tots
Brown ground turkey in pan with salt and pepper, set aside.
Add kale leaves and 1 cup water to large saucepan and cover, stirring occasionally. Do this until water has evaporated and kale is wilted. Remove from saucepan and set aside.
On medium-high heat, add mushrooms, onions and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to saucepan. Do not stir and let mushrooms brown and begin to caramelize. After about 5 to 6 minutes, stir mixture, add salt and pepper to taste, and allow to sit for another 5 to 6 minutes.
Add kale, butter, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Add milk, cream, and chicken stock to the pan. Reduce heat, and cover, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and reduces into a sauce. Add flour to thicken if necessary.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In 9-by-9-inch baking dish, combine the sauce from your pan, the wild rice and the ground turkey. Top with a single layer of sweet potato tots. Bake until tots begin to brown slightly on top, about 35 minutes.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Gobble It Up Minnesota Hotdish
3 cups of Jennie-O Whole Turkey, cubed
4 strips of Hormel bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Gold Medal Flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups Sno Pac frozen sliced carrots
2 cups Sno Pac frozen peas
Fresh thyme, tarragon, and parsley
Pillsbury Biscuit Dough, cut with a Minnesota-shaped cookie cutter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a saucepan, fry bacon until crispy and then add onion and garlic to the grease until softened and golden.
Sprinkle flour and add stock into the pan, stir for 2 minutes, and simmer on low until sauce thickens.
Add cream of mushroom soup, carrots, peas, turkey and herbs; stir until combined.
Pour into a casserole dish, add your Minnesota cutouts on top, and bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Sen. Al Franken’s Minnesota Turkey Wild Rice Treat
Turkey breast and 3 medium turkey drumsticks
1 pound mahnomin (the real wild rice)
2 sticks butter
1 big yellow onion
3 big celery stalks
12 ounces fresh mushrooms
6 cloves of fresh garlic
10.5-ounce can of condensed cream of mushroom
8-ounce can of water chestnuts (drained)
5 ounces chow mein noodles
Roast the turkey breast and drumsticks at 375 degrees for 1 to 1½ hours. Pull apart into bite-sized pieces.
Rinse mahnomin 3 times. Cover with 3 inches of water in a big uncovered pot. Boil water, then turn down to medium for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice has flowered or opens.
Mince garlic, slice onion, cut-up celery. Saute garlic, onions and celery in the butter in large skillet.
Slice mushroom and place in the sauteed mixture once the vegetable have begun to put off liquid.
Once the mushrooms have absorbed the liquid and butter, dump cooked mahnomin into the skillet and stir.
Put mixture in slow cooker along with water chestnuts. Thin the condensed soup with a little milk and add to slow cooker along with turkey.
Stir occasionally as everything cooks.
When ready to serve, place the chow mein noodles on the top of the hotdish for a crunchy taste treat.

Rep. Collin Peterson’s Suspend the Rules and Pass the Hotdish
Cooking-oil spray for greasing pan
1 pound ground beef1ely chopped
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
1 cup corn, drained, canned or frozen (thawed if frozen)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup beef or chicken broth
½ cup diced green bell pepper, optional
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
¾ cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
⅓ cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 3-quart high-sided casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large skillet, saute the beef and onion over medium-high heat until the meat is brown and the onion translucent, about 10 minutes. Then add the beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth, bell pepper (if using), chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and teaspoon salt. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, milk and oil until combined. Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Spread the meat mixture into the casserole dish and cover with the corn bread topping. The topping will disappear into the meat mixture but will rise during baking and form a layer of corn bread. Bake until the corn bread is brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Rep. John Kline’s Not Your Congressional Pork Barrel Biscuit Hotdish
2 16.3-ounce cans Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits
2 10-ounce packages of Lloyd’s Seasoned & Shredded Pork in Original BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons garlic powder
8 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces Colby Jack shredded cheese, divided
2 green onions, chopped
6 pieces bacon, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish.
Tear each canned biscuit into 5 small balls. Place into a sealed bag.
Add onion powder and garlic powder to the bag. Shake until evenly coated.
Assemble coated biscuits into the casserole dish as evenly. Pour melted butter over the top of the biscuits.
Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
Cover the top of the biscuits with 4 ounces of shredded cheese.
Spread barbecue sauce over the biscuits. Use a spoon to evenly distribute the mixture between and around the biscuits.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 8 ounces of shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and chopped green onions. Toss until mixed and spread evenly over the top of the hotdish.
Broil dish on low for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

Rep. Keith Ellison’s Hot Tot Berbere Tater Dishinator
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon of Ethiopian Berbere (increase or decrease to taste)
½ teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of your favorite taco seasoning
2 pounds of tater tots (frozen from a bag are fine)
1 or 2 medium; jalapeno peppers
2 or 3 Anaheim chili peppers
2 or 3 Serrano peppers
2 cups of shredded cheese (sharp Cheddar is best)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
Dice and seed peppers. If you leave in the seeds, that’s on you.
Brown the beef in a skillet. Once the beef is almost done, season the beef and add in the diced peppers to cook briefly.
In the casserole dish, add a layer of tater tots, then beef/peppers, then cheese. You can add salt and pepper to taste. Then add another layer of tater tots, beef/peppers, and cheese.
Place in the oven uncovered and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the tater tots are golden brown.

Rep. Tim Walz’s Cordon Blue Earth Hotdish
1½-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (diced)
1 pound thinly slice deli-style black forest ham, chopped
½ pound Baby Swiss cheese (sliced or shredded)
½ pound shredded mozzarella cheese
2 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup green beans, chopped and blanched
1½ cups baby bella (crimini) mushrooms (sliced) washed and well-dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter (salted)
1½ cup of hash browns, defrosted
2 10¾-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard (extra hot)
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
1 package of tater tots, frozen
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Deep-fry tater tops according to package instructions. Season with celery salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Set aside.
Season diced chicken with salt and pepper.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add in diced chicken and cook until well done. Set aside.
Place cast iron Dutch oven over high heat with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Stir continuously and gently with wooden spoon for 4 to 5 minutes. When mushrooms begin to brown, toss in the green onions and garlic. Sauté over moderate heat for more 2 minutes.
Mix sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the hash browns, blanched green beans, sauteed mushroom, green onion and garlic mixture: mix until combined.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole pan. Place diced chicken at the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle ham on top of the chicken. Pour mixture on top of the chicken and ham.
Lay Swiss cheese on top of mixture. Sprinkle all but a handful of the mozzarella on top of the Swiss cheese.
Scatter deep fried tater tots over the top of the mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes. Add rest of mozzarella on top of the tater tots and then bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Rep. Rick Nolan’s North Shore Jack Pine Hotdish
2 pounds of grass-fed Minnesota beef, ground
1 10¾-ounce can cream of celery soup
1 10¾-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1½ cups milk
1 medium organic onion
1½ cups of celery, chopped
7½ ounces seasoned bread stuffing
2 cups spicy pepper jack cheese
1 package frozen tater tots
½ cup onions, battered and deep-fried
Mix the stuffing as directed on the box. Brown the hamburger, celery and onion together.
Place the stuffing in a large “hotdish” dish. Layer hamburger mixture over the stuffing. Deposit the pepper jack cheese and tater tots on top of the hamburger mixture. Combine the soups and the milk and pour on top of the tater tots.
Bake at 350 degrees until crisp and bubbling, about 45 to 55 minutes.
Sprinkle deep-fried onions on top.

Rep. Erik Paulsen’s Drop It Like It’s Hotdish
1 cup wild rice (raw/uncooked)
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 6-ounce can sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
1½ cups half/half
3 cups diced cooked chicken
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Cook rice according to directions.
Cook onion in butter until tender-remove from heat and stir in flour. Drain mushrooms reserving the liquid. Combine mushroom liquid with chicken broth and gradually stir into flour mixture. Add half/half and cook until mixture thickens.
Add cooked rice, chicken, mushroom, parsley and salt and pepper.
Mix well and spoon into a buttered 2½-inch-deep casserole dish
Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Rep. Tom Emmers Fresh Meat Hotdish
1 pound, ground beef
1 10¾-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 10¾-ounce can cream of chicken soup
6-ounce can Green Giant canned corn
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 bag tater tots
1½ cups shredded Land O’Lakes Cheddar cheese
1½ cups, shredded Land O’Lakes jalapeno jack cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of salt and pepper
Hot sauce, optional
Mix onion, peppers, Lawry’s, onion powder and garlic into raw hamburger. Add cumin, chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper to tater tots. Brown the hamburger mixture. Mix the corn with the cans of soup. Spread the beef in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Alternate layers of soup/corn mixture and cheese. Top with a layer of tater tots. Bake for one hour at 375.

One thought on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Hotdish Heaven”

  • Nancy Christensen October 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for this magnificent collection of hotdish recipes, Chef Jeff. Printed and will try!


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