Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bringing Hotdish to the Potluck

My teenagers came home and said they needed to bring a hotdish to an event.  Hotdish?  I'd heard the term on television, and I think maybe in the Mitford books, but I wasn't sure what it meant.  Clearly it's something hot, and hotdish feels like it should be some kind of comfort food. Is it a particular dish, we wondered at our house, or regional terminology? Was it similar to the southern term barbecue, which refers to something you consume ("She served up some tasty barbecue,") rather than the act of barbecuing, or the event where people get together to barbecue? ("Are you coming to the barbecue?  We'll be barbecuing chicken.")

Isn't grammar fun?

The answer is that a hotdish is a type of casserole, no specific ingredients required.
It's worth looking in Wikipedia for hotdish and casserole, just to put a little smile on your face.  Here are some quotes:

Hotdish: a variety of casserole which typically contains a starch, a meat, and a canned or frozen vegetable, mixed with canned soup. The dish originates from and is popular in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, particularly the states of Minnesota and North Dakota. Hotdishes are filling, convenient, and easy to make. They are well-suited for family reunions, funerals, church suppers, and potlucks where they may be paired with potato salad, coleslaw, Jello salads, and desserts, and pan-baked desserts known as bars.  (That’s my favorite part. Please help yourself to this pan-baked dessert.  I call them “bars.”)

Casserole: usually consist of pieces of meat, chopped vegetables, a starchy binder such as flour, rice, potato, or pasta, and, often, a crunchy or cheesy topping.

FYI, my spell check didn't know hotdish, so I added it to my dictionary.

For someone who makes casseroles (and specifically hotdishes) several nights a week, the detailed descriptions are surreal.  Makes me feel like we're studying the lives of remote villagers. Imagine if in a hundred years your great-great-great-grandchild reads about casseroles in history books.  I wonder if the terms or the recipes themselves will follow future generations.  You never know what will get passed down, and what will go by the wayside.

When reading Wiki's entry on casseroles, be sure to explore “See Also,” and click on “List of Casseroles.”  Some you’ve probably never heard of: Moussaka, Flying Jacob, Nut Roast, and Rappie Pie, for instance.  There are also variations on old favorites, like American Goulash, Lasagna, Scalloped Potatoes, Frito Pie, Macaroni and Cheese, and Funeral Potatoes. That last one should catch your posterity's curiosity.

Comfort foods, casseroles, hotdishes, crock pot soups ... soft, warm foods for rainy, winter nights.  Perfect.

Here's one of our favorite recipes:

Gluten-Free Tater Tot Casserole (AKA Hotdish):
1 lb ground turkey, browned and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 ¼ cup (11 oz) gluten-free condensed cream of chicken soup (see recipe below)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 lb bag frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350°. 

In a 9x13 pan, spread ground turkey and sprinkle  with salt, pepper, and onion.  Spread cream of chicken soup over top of meat.  Drizzle Worchestershire sauce next, and use a spoon to gently spread into soup mixture, without disturbing the layers. Top with enough tater tots to cover the surface.

Bake at 350 for 30–40 minutes, or until the food is hot and bubbly.

Gluten-Free Cream of Chicken Soup
6 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp each garlic powder and salt
⅛ tsp each pepper and paprika
¾ cup brown rice flour
1 ¾ cup gluten-free chicken broth
1 ¾ cup milk (I used dairy-free rice drink)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and seasonings.  Add flour, and stir until thick and slightly bubbly.  Add broth and juice.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

This will make more than the above recipe calls for.  What you don't use can be frozen for future recipes.

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