Hotdish heaven: The recipes from the Congressional casserole contest

WASHINGTON -- "Working together to improve the lives of Minnesotans, one hotdish at a time." That was the tagline for the sixth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Off, hosted each year by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, which took place...

Judge Dorothy Sietsema (right) of Worthington samples one of the offerings Wednesday in Sen. Al Franken’s annual Hotdish Off event in Washington. At left is judge Ryan Jensen. Submitted Photo

WASHINGTON - “Working together to improve the lives of Minnesotans, one hotdish at a time.”

That was the tagline for the sixth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Off, hosted each year by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, which took place Wednesday in Washington. Rep. Tim Walz’s recipe, Tim’s Turkey Taco Tot Hotdish, was deemed the best in a field of 10 dishes prepared by the Minnesota delegation. The 1st District congressman - who has taken the title three times out of the six years - must have a penchant for turkey. Walz’s Turkey Trot Tater-Tot Hotdish (a nod to Worthington’s King Turkey Day event, no doubt) took the top prize in 2014. His Hermann the German Hotdish also garnered first-place honors in 2013.
And Worthington could boast two of its own among the panel of judges for the 2016 casserole extravaganza: Dorothy Sietsema of Worthington, who happened to be visiting the nation’s capital, and her son, Tom Sietsema, a 1979 Worthington High School graduate and the food critic for the Washington Post, were among the tasters who proclaimed Walz’s concoction the best.
Here is the winning recipe, along with the two prepared by our Minnesota senators, host Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

Tim’s Turkey Taco
Tot Hotdish
Rep. Tim Walz
1 pound ground turkey
1 large red bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 can sliced black olives
1 can diced mild green chiles
1 bottle taco sauce (medium)
16 ounces sour cream
1 bag frozen tater tots
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups sweet corn
Cherry tomatoes
Green onions
Shredded lettuce
Chili powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Dice onion and bell pepper into 1-inch dice and sauté in 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper for 15 minutes, until tender. Remove onion and bell pepper and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Brown turkey. In small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons each paprika, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Add half of mixture to the turkey while browning; reserve other half to sprinkle over tots prior to baking. When finished, add turkey to sautéed onion and bell pepper. Add black olives, sweet corn, chiles, taco sauce, 2 cups of cheese and sour cream. Stir mixture until well-combined.
Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Add tots on top of mixture and cheese. Sprinkle spice mixture on top of tots.
Bake in 400-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tots are crispy and golden brown. After removing from oven, sprinkle with shredded lettuce, green onions and diced tomato.
Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro or your favorite taco topping.

Land of 10,000 Calories Hotdish
Sen. Al Franken
8 pound pork shoulder
1/3 cup table salt
1/8 cup coarse salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup prepared brown rice
¾ cup prepared quinoa
1 onion
½ cup heavy cream
½ stick butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cooked peas
1 cup cooked diced carrots
Ritz crackers
Rub pork shoulder with table salt, coarse salt and sugar mixture; leave in refrigerator overnight.
Cook pork shoulder in slow cooker for 10 to 12 hours on low.
Shred pork; remove excess fat
Julienne onion and sauté in butter and olive oil for approximately 30 minutes.
Combine all ingredients except for Ritz crackers. Cook in slow cooker for 1 hour on high.
When finished, add crushed Ritz crackers to top of dish. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Babe the “Brew” Ox Steak and Ale Hotdish
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
1 pound stew meat, cubed
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon oil
3 strips bacon, diced
2 yellow onions, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
3 carrots, chopped
1 bottle coffee-infused or dark beer
2 cups beef broth
½ cup milk
8 ounces mushrooms
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Tater tots
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dredge cubed steak in flour and brown in oil on all sides. Set aside.
Sauté bacon until crispy, then lower the heat and add onion, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper, cooking until softened. Add carrots and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add the beer, broth, milk and mushrooms and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with cold water and add in batches until thickened to proper consistency. Remember that it will keep thickening in the oven. Stir in parsley.
Pour mixture into a casserole dish, top with tater tots and cook until crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.


Submitted Photo

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