Today we're diving into a recipe that is a testament to the culinary heritage of Minnesota, a heart-warming and belly-filling one-pot meal known as the Minnesota Hot Dish. If you're from Minnesota, you're probably already envisioning what I'm about to share. But for those not in the know, it's time to familiarize yourself with this upper Midwest classic.
In Minnesota, they don't say “casserole” — it's “hot dish,” and trust me, this classic is hot in every sense. It's a dish that embodies comfort, convenience, and crowd-pleasing flavors. If you've ever been to a potluck in these parts, there's a good chance you've savored this dish or perhaps a creative spin-off of it. After all, the Minnesota Hot Dish is a staple at potlucks, family dinners, church suppers, and any gathering where people come together to share good food and great company.
History of Minnesota Hot Dish
To truly appreciate Minnesota Hot Dish, we must journey back in time to its humble beginnings. The dish's roots can be traced to the early settlers of Minnesota, who brought with them their culinary traditions from various European countries. The harsh winters and limited resources in the region necessitated hearty, economical meals that could sustain families during long, cold months.
Over time, hot dish evolved as a reflection of the state's agricultural abundance and cultural influences. The Scandinavian, German, and Irish immigrants, among others, contributed their own traditional recipes and cooking techniques, blending them with local ingredients. Hot dish became a staple of Minnesota cuisine, deeply ingrained in the state's culinary identity.
Traditional Minnesota Hot Dish typically features a combination of ingredients that showcase the region's agricultural heritage. The key components often include ground beef or chicken, vegetables like onions, carrots, and green beans, and a starch such as potatoes or noodles. These ingredients are then bound together with a creamy sauce, often made with condensed soup, such as cream of mushroom or cream of chicken.
The choice of ingredients may vary depending on personal preferences and regional variations. Some families add canned corn or peas, while others incorporate Minnesota's famous wild rice, adding a unique nutty flavor and texture to the dish. Regardless of the specific ingredients used, the result is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make Minnesota Hot Dish so enticing.
Popular Variations of Minnesota Hot Dish
As with any beloved dish, Minnesota Hot Dish has inspired a variety of creative and flavorful variations across the state. While the classic version remains a favorite, there are numerous adaptations that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences.
One popular variation is the Tater Tot Hot Dish, where tater tots replace the traditional starch component. The crispy tots add a delightful crunch and are often placed on top of the casserole, creating a golden, irresistible crust. Another variation embraces the abundance of fresh produce by incorporating veggies like corn and green beans.
For those seeking a healthier alternative, lean ground turkey or vegetarian substitutes can be used instead of beef, while low-fat or homemade sauces can reduce the dish's calorie content without compromising flavor. The versatility of Minnesota Hot Dish allows for endless experimentation, ensuring there is a version to please every palate.
How to Make a Classic Minnesota Hot Dish
For this one, we're going with the classic Hamburger and Rice Hot Dish variation. You'll need a pound of lean ground beef or turkey (whichever fits your budget), three stalks of celery, and one yellow onion. For pantry staples, you'll require a can of cream of mushroom soup, a tablespoon of soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and a cup of white rice (any variety you have on hand or that you prefer).
Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Finely chop the onion and celery. As you're doing that, begin browning your choice of meat in a large skillet. Once the meat is nearly cooked, add the onion and celery to the skillet and let them mingle for about 3 minutes.
Next, let's add the can of cream of mushroom soup to the skillet, combining it gently on low heat with the meat. The soup can isn't done yet! To our savory skillet, we're going to add the soy sauce, a sprinkle of salt, and a hint of black pepper. Stir it all together and let it simmer for a minute or so.
Rice time! Add a cup of rice to the skillet and mix it well with the rest of the ingredients, then switch off the heat. Fill up the soup can with water and pour it over the mixture, giving it a thorough stir to ensure everything is well combined.
Transfer the mixture into a 2.5-quart casserole dish, then it's ready for the oven. Bake it, covered, for an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. After an hour, remove the lid, stir the casserole with a fork, and then put the lid back on and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Finally, it's serving time! This comforting casserole can be enjoyed fresh from the oven and it also reheats nicely in the microwave for leftovers. To make it a complete meal, consider pairing it with a Caesar salad and some fresh fruit on the side or as dessert.
So there you have it – a hearty, budget-friendly dish that your family will love, and your wallet will appreciate. Enjoy your meal, frugal friends!
Minnesota Hamburger and Rice Hot Dish
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 onion
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 can water
- 1 cup white rice
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Finely chop onion and celery.
- Brown ground beef in large skillet.
- Add the onion and celery once the meat is almost done. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions and celery begin getting tender.
- Add the cream of mushroom soup to the meat mixture and stir over low heat just enough to mix in the soup. Add the soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
- Next, add the rice to the mixture along with one soup can filled with water. Stir until combined.
- Pour all of this into a quart casserole dish. Cover and cook for one hour.
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