For the second consecutive year, Rep. Tim Walz has won the fourth-annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Off, which was held today in Washington, D.C.
It's no suprise that members of the delegation take the opportunity to offer somewhat shameless shout-outs to Minnesota-based food companies, including Hormel, Jennie-O (Walz), Crystal Sugar, Kemps, Land O'Lakes (Sen. Amy Klobuchar), MOM Brands (Rep. John Kline) and Green Giant (Rep. Michele Bachmann). But hey, wouldn't you?
Just two recipes required (the cyncial may say pandered to) what is perhaps the Gopher State's most famous ingredient, wild rice: "Ranger's Hunting Camp Hotdish" from Rep. Rick Nolan, and Rep. Betty McCollum's "Minnesota Wild Rice and Chicken Hotdish." Franken's recipe calls for U of M-developed Honeycrisp apples.
Three required that church-basement hotdish staple, cream of mushroom soup: Rep. Collin Peterson's "Hunter Hotdish" (which earns kudos for its use of ground venison, underscoring the politician-hunting connection), Nolan's "Ranger's Hunting Camp Hotdish" (see previous elected-official-in-the-gun-blind observation) and Rep. John Kline's "Morning Hot Chow Hotdish."
Walz's recipe requires a do-it-yourself cream of mushroom soup, which probably goes a long way in explaining its appeal.
I'd like to offer a few additional honors. This year's They Were Robbed award goes to Sen. Al Franken's delicious-sounding roasted pork sausage-apple-sauerkraut conconction, although that layer of mashed potatoes might explain its also-ran status.
Rep. Erik Paulsen wins the Phoning-It-In medal for his "Grandma's Minnesota Nice Mock Lasagna," for two reasons: Ragu spaghetti sauce. And the words "mock lasagna."
The Most Responsive to Conditions Back Home medallion belongs to the "It's So Cold My Hotdish Froze" dessert hotdish from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a freezer dessert involving a peanut butter-cream cheese-Cool Whip custard in a Golden Grahams (a General Mills product, naturally) crust, although just reading it makes my teeth hurt.
As for the Best Name award, it's no contest: Rep. Michele Bachmann's "Polar Vortex-Mex Hotdish."
Here's Walz's winning recipe, re-written in a more follow-able format:
TURKEY TROT TATER TOT HOTDISH
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From Rep. Tim Walz.
1 lb. ground turkey
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more as needed
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. of fresh green beans, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 slices bacon
6 tbsp. butter, divided
1 1/2 c. chopped baby bella mushrooms
5 to 6 tbsp. flour
2 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c. half and half
1/4 c. chopped onions
3 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1 32-oz. package Tater Tots
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, garlic, sage, green onions, egg, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. In a skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and then brown the turkey mixture. Remove from stove and transfer mixture to a large bowl.
In a pot of boiling water, blanch green beans for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove beans and plunge them into ice water. Once cool, drain completely and add to turkey mix.
In a skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, and cool bacon on paper towels. Chop bacon into 1/4-inch pieces and add to turkey mix. Gently combine turkey mix, beans and bacon and spread in an even layer in a 9x13-inch baking pan.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons butter. As soon foam begins to subside, add mushrooms and cook, stirring continuously, until mushrooms are browned, about 4 to 6 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Slowly and evenly sprinkle flour into the butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then slowly whisk in the milk and half and half. Cook for 2 more minutes, then add diced onions, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. After 1 minute, stir in 2 1/2 cups cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Pour cheese mixture evenly over casserole. Scatter Tater Tots over the top, then scatter remaining shredded cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.
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