What is Hotdish?
Hotdish is any of a variety of baked casserole popular in the Midwestern United States, and especially in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, northern Iowa, and western Wisconsin. It consists of a starch, a meat, and a canned vegetable, mixed together with canned soup."You need a starch (rice, grains, noodles or potatoes), some sort of protein (beans, tofu, etc.), some liquid to moisten everything, and last, a crust or topping to make it crispy and golden brown." The soup is often cream of mushroom, which serves as a binding ingredient.
Hotdishes are filling, convenient, easy to make, and well-suited for family reunions, funerals, church suppers, and potlucks, where they may be paired with pan-baked cookies known as bars.
The history of the hotdish goes back to when "budget-minded farm wives needed to feed their own families, as well as congregations in the basements of the first Minnesota churches." The dish is tasty, filling and stretches to feed and satisfy many people and doesn't include "expensive meat". It can be prepared over a woodstove and provides a hearty and warm meal in a part of the United States that gets hit with frigid temperatures in the dark of winter. "Generations later we're still hotdishing.
Typical ingredients in hotdish are potatoes, ground beef, green beans, and corn, with canned soup added as a binder and for flavor and as a sauce. Potatoes may be in the form of tater tots, hash browns, potato chips, or shoe string potatoes. The dish is usually seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, and it may be eaten with ketchup as a condiment. Another popular hotdish is made with Kraft macaroni and cheese or plain noodles, canned tuna, peas, and mushroom soup.
Cream of mushroom soup is so ubiquitous in hotdish that it is often referred to in such recipes as "Lutheran Binder," referring to hotdish's position as a staple of Lutheran church cookbooks. The soup is considered a defining ingredient by some commentators.