Casserole Showdown: Sen. Franken’s Seventh Annual “Hotdish Off”

Photo Courtesy: Sen. Franken's Office

Political differences were set aside all in the name of hotdish

Washington, D.C. – Political differences were set aside Wednesday afternoon all in the name of the great Minnesota hotdish.

Every year, the Minnesota Congressional Delegation gathers for an afternoon of hotdish and friendship hosted by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). This year marked the seventh annual “Hotdish Off.”

“After a very divisive election, this, I think, is the most important Hotdish Off ever,” Franken said, donning the red apron that has become his signature outfit for the event.

The unique competition is a highly anticipated event for Minnesota Congressional members on Capitol Hill. When it first started in 2011, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann was the only Republican to participate. Now the entire Congressional delegation participates, with all ten members bringing their own unique concoction.

Franken says it is a chance for Minnesota Congressional members to put aside their political differences, and bond over a mutual love of Minnesota and the hotdish.

“Because what this is all about is being a neighbor — sharing food, sustenance, a hearty, hearty prairie dish,” Franken said.

This year featured many punny names, including Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-MN) “Right to Bear Arms” which included actual bear meat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s “Minnesota Melting Tot” baked with many different flavors highlighting the many cultures of the state, and Rep. Tom Emmer’s “Sunday Beer Run and Brat Hotdish” which played off the Minnesota legislature recently passing Sunday sales.

All ten casseroles were spread out over a large banquet table, allowing everybody to get a good look before the blind taste test started. The judges were three Minnesota-natives: Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, and Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

After much deliberation, Peterson’s “Right To Bear Arms” was deemed the winner. Peterson, an avid hunter and pro-gun Democrat, included a pound and a half of bear meat into his winning recipe. However, he admitted the bear was actually shot by one of his staffers.

“This event is always a strong showing of bipartisanship and good food,” Rep. Peterson said. “It is an honor to be this year’s winner, with a hotdish that recognizes the great outdoors. It’s always a pleasure to come together with the delegation. I appreciate Senator Franken’s work to continue this annual tradition and thank the other delegation members for tasty hotdish.”

Emmer and his Sunday liquor sales inspired hotdish tied for second with Rep. Jason Lewis’ “‘Minnesota Wild’ Rice and Pheasant Hotdish.” Both Republicans were all smiles during the event.

“Few things are more bipartisan than a delicious Minnesota hotdish, and it’s great to see my friends from the delegation all here,” Lewis said.

If you want to recreate a hotdish featured in the 2017 competition, recipes for all ten of the hotdishes can be found here. Pictures of the fun-filled afternoon can be found here.

Christine Bauman
 | Website