MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s something many Minnesotans grew up with and many still enjoy today: hot dish.

It’s become an annual contest among the state’s congressional delegation. On Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken hosted the 5th annual hot dish competition in Washington, D.C., putting partisanship aside in favor of a culinary tradition. Rep. Betty McCollum’s “Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Wild Rice Hot Dish” took first place.

Almost anything served up in a dish that’s hot here in Minnesota can be considered a hot dish.

“It’s hearty,” Emily Egart said. “It’s comfort food. On days like this, it warms the belly.”

The traditional Minnesota hot dish is served in a single dish, but what’s inside makes each one stand out.

“Tater tot hot dish’s got to have peas in it,” Derek Duffy said.

“You definitely have to have the tater tots and the hamburger,” Luita Seifert said.

A hot dish has a few key ingredients: “the protein, your veg, which in this case is green beans, and then you’re texture,” Haute Dish Chef de Cuisine Remle Colestock said.

It’s not exactly clear when the hot dish first appeared on kitchen tables in the state, but everyone recalls how the hot dish started.

“You have a lot of stuff in the fridge and you’re trying to feed a family,” Colestock said. “You want to be able to put everything in one dish and bake it off and have it ready to go.”

If you’re not from Minnesota, you might call the hot dish by a different name.

“Everywhere else calls it a casserole,” Abigail Harris said.

The all-in-one hot dish is a staple at family gatherings, at churches, at Thanksgiving and at potlucks. Over the years, more Minnesota foods, like wild rice, have found their way into hot dishes, like in the one for which McCollum won.

Jennifer Mayerle

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