Fall is here and Minnesota natives love to make and serve hearty hot dishes for their families and friends.
Hot dish is a casserole which typically contains a starch, a meat and a canned and/or frozen vegetable, mixed with canned soup. The hot dish is cooked in an oven and served hot in a single baking dish and commonly appears not only at family dinner tables as the main course, but at communal gatherings such as family reunions, potlucks and church suppers or funerals. When served at gatherings, they are served with potato salad, coleslaw, Jell-O salads and pan-baked desserts known as bars.
The history of the hot dish 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 most typical meat for a hot dish is ground beef, and cream of mushroom remains the favorite canned soup. Pasta is the most frequently used starch, but tater tots and wild rice are very popular also.
Just how popular is the “hot dish”? It frequently appears, along with other unique Minnesotan dishes such as lutefisk, in the radio program A Prairie Home Companion and is also described in Howard Mohr’s book How to Talk Minnesotan. It is an integral element of the book Hot dish to Die For, a collection of six culinary mystery short stories in which the weapon of choice is hot dish written by Pat Dennis. Minnesota public television station, KSMQ in Austin, Minnesota, produced a 2012 documentary video entitled “Minnesota Hot dish” providing a historical and humorous look at the popular dish. Hot dish is so popular Senator Al Franken holds a hot dish competition for the Minnesota congressional delegation! This year’s winner was Rep. Tim Walz for his “Turkey Trot Tater-Tot Hot dish”!
 Harron, Hallie. (February 1996), Vegetarian Times
 “Minnesota Hot dish: The Documentary,” MinnPost.com, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 11, 2103