The Great Midwestern Debate: Casserole VS. Hot dish

I was over 35 when I first thought I understood the reference to ‘hot dish.’ Sure, I’ve heard people refer to ‘hot dishes,’ which obviously means the dish is ‘hot’, am I right? Wrong.

In our next of the woods, we bring casseroles to potlucks, family reunions, 4H meetings, etc… Casseroles which are hot are accompanied by hot mitts because they were likely in a ‘hot dish.’

The Great Midwestern Debate: Casserole VS Hot dish -

My first conversation about casseroles and hot dishes can be described as confusing and admittedly, a bit mind boggling.

Since that day, I’ve been suspect of all North Dakotans and Minnesotans. They talk about these alleged ‘hot dishes,’ but never offer up the contents of the ‘hot dishes.’ Then, they explain just enough to confuse me (yet, again) but not enough to snatch an actual recipe.

Its almost as though there is a secret recipe cult up north. AND, the cult requires a secret password. A password which I can imagine involves l—o—n—g ‘O’s,’ a lick on a snowball, followed by a quick run around the ice fishing hutch (in shorts and a Parka) concluded with a good ‘ol ‘you betcha!’

I might not know the password but I’m fairly certain that no password = no ‘hot dish’ recipes.

Christmas in the Country on TheMagicFarmHouse.comFor the third year in a row, I’ve had the delight of participating in the ‘Christmas In the Country,’ gift exchange. If you have not participated, I highly recommend doing so during the holiday season of 2016. The connections which have been made via the social media exchange have led to in person introductions and continued friendships. Besides, its a blast playing a secret Santa and making someone smile.

I’m sure you are curious about where this post is headed – its a bit all over the place. Hang in there, relevance exists.

This year I received an amazing, coveted gift through the ‘Christmas In the Country,’ exchange. Boom.

Thanks to blogger, Brian Randolph, I have possession of the top secret ‘Hot Dish Password,’ in the form of ‘The Great Minnesota Hot Dish!!” I’m unable to reveal the password but Brian tells me I may reveal the front of the cookbook and one recipe. Anymore than that and I’ll be held hostage in northern Minneosota which means….-55 degree wind chills in northern Minnesota. No. thank. you.

The Great Minnesota Hot Dish -

In all seriousness, this is an incredible cookbook. Tonight, we’ll be trying an adaption of the Biscuit Topped Beef Hot Dish. Rather than beef, we’ll substitute with ground deer. I’m at least a week over due for a grocery store trip so I’m using tomato soup in place of tomato paste and sauce. A couple other changes and we’ll be good-to-go with our first Minnesotan Hot Dish!

Here’s what I have learned:

  • The opportunity to view actual hot dish recipes has complicated the battle of understanding the differences.
  • The term “Hot dish” does not just refer to a major entree. It can include dessert dishes! Dessert dishes which are considered main dishes. Mind blown. Again.
  • In contrast, there aren’t ‘breakfast hot dishes’, as we call breakfast casseroles. The eggs, pork, etc… are separated into their own hot dish categories.
  • Experience has shown that cookbooks in our area typically break entrees into beef, pork, chicken, etc… The Great Minnesota Hot Dish also includes one of their most important segments of the agriculture industry – Turkey!
  • The cookbook includes recipes for different occasions such as the neighbor is sick, the potluck hot dish, the baby shower hot dish, Tofu, Tex-Mex and even the Chinese hot dish.
  • Most importantly: The debate between the casserole and hot dish is no where near over.
  • Even more important: I LOVE trying all of these hot dish recipes and these Minnesotan traditions!

A genuine and whole-hearted thank you to Brian from The Lil A Farm! You can follow the Randolph’s blog by clicking here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

The Great Minnesota Hot Dish -

And, a huge wing-woman thank you to Lara Durben from My Other More Exciting Self, Jamie from This Uncharted Rhoade, Laurie from COUNTRY LINKed, and Kirby from 15009 Farmhouse for coordinating and executing another awesome Christmas In the Country exchange!!


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  1. Hi Jenny! I love this post and your spin on your gift – how fun! Here in Missouri we refer to them as casseroles as well, even in Northern Mo where I’m originally from. I’m not sure where the casserole/hot dish line is… I think somewhere a little past the pop/soda line, lol! Minnesota has a soft spot in my heart ever since I spent a summer there as an intern. This cookbook looks really neat and I’m glad you were able to make some new connections and friends this year with the exchange. Thanks for joining us!

  2. So………I have never heard of the term “Hot Dish”!!! Really! How could I not of known there was a segment of the food world I was missing?? Shame on me. This cookbook would be coveted by an anyone. And you received it Jenny! Boom indeed!
    Thanks for joining us for year three of CITC! Always a pleasure to read your blog my friend.
    Laurie – Country Link

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