I grew up in Minnesota eating a ton of hotdish.  My parents were Norwegian folks, so it goes without saying we ate it.  But what exactly is hotdish?  People outside of Minnesota call it a casserole.  It typically contains a starch, a meat, canned vegetables (we used Veg-All to cover the complete vegetable spectrum) and condensed soup.  I would also say hotdish is fairly bland in taste.  My family didn’t use a lot of spices, onions or garlic.  I’m not sure if it was just my family or a Minnesota thing, but food like the hotdish were pretty plain.

People not from Minnesota ask me “How could you eat that?”  Thing is, I don’t remember hating hotdish when I was a child.  To me, hotdish is a meal you prepare on weeknights.  It should be fairly easy to throw together, something kids will love, and well – hot!img_20170103_153318_478

Below is my version with a few adjustments.  First, I wanted to stay true to the fact that people make hot dish because it’s EASY.  One product I found while developing this recipe was an organic condensed soup by Pacific Foods.  The only ingredients in this brand’s version are water, mushrooms, milk, rice starch, salt, onion and garlic powder.  Second, I wanted it to be fun.  I top my dish with tater tots.  You can substitute panko breadcrumbs, but your family will want the tots!  Finally, my parents and grandparents were notorious for not liking anything spicy.  Even onions were considered a little on the wild side.  This dish is filled with onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!

Minnesota Hot Dish

Serves 4 people

Olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

4 oz fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3/4 lb ground beef or ground chicken

1 12-oz container Pacific Foods Organic Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup

1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb bag frozen tater tots (you will have leftovers)

4 oz to 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar or Colby cheese

Snipped fresh parsley or chives as optional garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place rack in center of oven.

In a 12″ skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil and add onion, carrots and celery.  Cook on medium heat until vegetables are softened, about five minutes.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until water from mushrooms is cooked off.  Add minced garlic and stir well until garlic is fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Add ground beef or ground chicken to pan.  Heat on medium and stir frequently until meat is no longer pink.  Add condensed soup and frozen peas.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that the tater tots will also add sodium to the dish).

Remove pan from heat.  Place a layer of frozen tater tots on top of mixture (you may have extra to use later).  Bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes.  If tater tots start to become too brown tent with foil and continue baking.

Remove casserole from oven and cover with cheese.  Allow to sit about 5 minutes to let cheese melt.  Garnish with parsley or snipped chives for a little beauty, if desired.  Enjoy!

This is not a paid blog post.  I paid for the product myself, and the content is my own.