Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hot Dish

Another new cookbook I have that I forgot to mention is The Great Minnesota Hot Dish, which I received as a going away present when I left Minnesota. For the uninformed reader, "hot dish" in Minnesota is like casserole in the rest of the country - a pan of meat, cheese, veggies, and/or rice and perhaps a tater tot or two, which is combined with a canned creamy soup and crunchy topping, baked, and brought to pot lucks, wakes, or served for supper. I have a dish towel which displays hot dishes by region across the state of Minnesota. In the twin cities, it's Tater Tot Hot Dish and Bologna Supper, in Duluth it's Shepherd's Pie, near the Boundary Waters it's Foil Packet Dinner, in the northwest corner it's Jiffy Tuna Hot Dish and Hawaiian Meatballs, and right before you cross into Fargo it's American Chop Suey and Impossible Hamburger Pie.
The names are often better than the flavor, I'm guessing.

The cookbook recipes ranged from the safe: Chicken and Rice Hot Dish, Swedish Meatballs, Cheesy Spaghetti Hot Dish, and Cheesy Fish, Rice and Asparagus the gourmet: Tuna Broccoli Brie Hot Dish, Salmon with Saffron Rice, Dilled-Scalloped Potatoes the downright disgusting: Spam Hot Dish, Dried Beef Hot Dish, Tofu Potato Hot Dish

I'm not too keen on making things like hot dish because I end up with far too many servings for one person (I don't want to eat hot dish for a week) and pouring canned soup over everything doesn't strike me as the best way to add flavor. But I'll give any cookbook a try.

I tried a very safe recipe to kick things off: Chicken Artichoke and Rice. With chicken pieces (I used thighs), frozen artichokes, and long grain rice, it was a hot dish with no surprises and simple flavors. Rice cooked in chicken broth with garlic, onions, lemon juice, and herbs had wonderful flavor and the only problem was there was not enough of it. The proportions seemed to be way off with only a half cup of rice for four servings. You should estimate about 1/3 cup of rice per person you want to serve. The chicken would be tastier if it were marinated in lemon and garlic overnight. But then hot dish is not known for flavorful meat. Still, I would make something like this again with tweaks to the recipe.

Next hot dish on the horizon: Maybe Parmesan Shrimp Hot Dish. No canned soup, and if I can get over the combo of clam juice and catsup in the recipe, I might like it.

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