Minnesota Cooking: Tator Tot Hotdish - or Comfort Food
Cheesy Potato Hotdish
They are all great!!!
You'll find hotdish at many Church functions, bring a dish to pass ordeals, and when you go to eat at someone's house. Tatortot Hotdish is a well known favorite. Layers of hamburger, cheese, green beans, onions and tatortots, held together with a sauce of Cream of Mushroom soup and Lawry's Seasoned Salt. That is, if you make it from scratch. Scratch, of course, means homemade. Oh, yes, and it's baked in the oven.
Did I mention that? Hotdish is hot. Usually you bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for up to 2 hours until all the ingredients are merged together.
Sometimes I cheat when I make hotdish. Instead of making from scratch, I use a lot of the Bear Creek soup mixes on a weekly basis. I have just started using them at Thanksgiving for my dressing casserole. Instead of adding cream of mushroom soup, I now add a package of their creamy soup mixes. The flavor is awesome. It doesn't have to be a creamy mix. The other mixes taste good as well as a base for casseroles. I love them all.
The cheese soup mix with a little ham and onions makes a great scalloped potatoes dish.
Minnesota Hotdish Starts With Bear Creek Soup
Those of Authority, or They, have been known to assert that the state of Minnesota is the only state that boasts the Hotdish.
Other states have the casserole but we, as a whole, have full license to the hotdish.
The hotdish is a conglomeration of ingredients cooked until thickened. An assumption is that back in the early days of the state, our people cooked on wood fired stoves in their kitchen and generally speaking, the fare was usually soup. As the week progressed, the soup grew thicker and thicker; presumably because the excess moisture would boil out and it would leave the noodles and sauces and vegetables cuddling together in the dish. Usually the dish was of some temperature that would leave a blister on the skin of anyone who happened to touch it, hence the term Hot dish.
Hotdishes have come to be known as comfort food. Comfort food is food that fills the mouth with a warm sensation of thick food. Usually somewhat creamy and salted. As it leaves the mouth and enters the stomach, the warmth can be felt below. Almost like getting a hug internally.
For example: an easy, modern hotdish is Tator Tot Hotdish. It is composed of layers. The bottom layer is a mixture of hamburger, salt, pepper, green beans and cream of mushroom soup, a few chopped onions and mushrooms. The next layer is some shredded cheese and the final and top layer is frozen Tator Tots. This dish is placed in a 350 degree oven until the mixture is bubbling and merging. This process takes about 2 hours.
How About You?
Do you call comfort food casserole or hotdish?
Wild Rice Hotdish
Cheddar Potato HOTDISH
First, you take 1/2 stick butter, place in your frying pan and put your celery pieces, onion pieces and ham pieces in it. Heat together on medium low and heat until the onions and celery pieces are softened and a little browned. You may, at this point, have to switch to a soup kettle. Or, if you do it like me, just sauté the stuff in the soup kettle to start with... but, pay attention to scorching.. stir, stir, stir... Then, put your mushrooms in, put your potatoes in, stir a bit, add your 8 cups of water and your Cheddar Potato Soup mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, with the cover off slightly... you may have to watch for scorching, so stir occasionally. Mine scorched a bit, so, next time I’ll be more careful. THEN, stir in the can/cans of Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery. Then, make sure you have your poultry seasoning stirred in and oregano and some Lawry’s Seasoned salt. Then, dump the whole works into your casserole dish. I use my huge glass baking dish. Sprinkle some cheddar cheese shreds over the top and bake in the oven at 350 for an hour. The casserole should bubble and merge together. The cheese will melt in and start to brown slightly. You do not have to cover it while it is cooking. I think that about wraps it up. OH... yeah, ... one more thing... you can eat it now....