U.S. Rep. Tim Walz won the third annual Minnesota congressional delegation "Hotdish Off" cooking competition, wowing the judges with his "Hermann the German" recipe.
"This is bragging rights in Minnesota. The hotdish is serious business," said Walz, who submitted a Spam-based dish in last year's competition. "We felt like maybe we got overlooked last year, but we came all out this year."
The recipe for this year's winner included a package of brats, a bottle of Schell's Brewing Co. beer, tater tots and cheddar cheese. Walz also displayed a "Hermann the German" bobblehead doll near his winning entry, drawing protests from the other competitors
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who won the first competition in 2011, finished second with her "Hormel 'I Can't Believe It's Not Spam' Pepperoni Pizza Hotdish."
"I do congratulate Congressman Walz," Klobuchar said. "Of course he had a prop and I wasn't aware that you could have props."
Walz's bobblehead is a replica of the 32-foot-tall statue "Hermann the German" that sits atop the Hermann Heights Monument in New Ulm, a town in Walz's southern Minnesota district.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken hosted the event, which he billed as a bipartisan, bicameral meeting "where we celebrate a Minnesota tradition."
"This year the recipes are just more sophisticated than ever," Franken said. "They're good."
Here's a link to the recipes, including Rep. Keith Ellison's "Juicy Lucy Hotdish" and Rep. Michele Bachmann's "Southwest Metro Hotdish."
Former Minnesota congressmen Vin Weber and Gerry Sikorski judged the competition.
"There are two keys to a successful hotdish: tater tots and lots of cheese," Weber said. "As long as you have those two things going for you, you can't lose."
Last year's cookoff ended in a tie between Franken and former U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, who lost his re-election bid in November.
"As Senator Klobuchar so graciously pointed out, winning the Hot Dish does not guarantee you'll win an election," Walz deadpanned.
In addition to bragging rights, Walz took home a trophy, a casserole dish inscribed with a fitting phrase: "Working together to improve the lives of Minnesotans -- one hotdish at a time."
U.S. Rep. John Kline was the lone member of the state's congressional delegation not to participate. His spokesman said he was testifying before the House Rules Committee on pending legislation. He declined to participate in the previous two competitions.
Before and after pictures of Walz's "Hermann the German Hotdish" are below.
Here's Rep. Erik Paulsen, right, enjoying a laugh with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, left, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, center.