Nick Gann is a Researcher in the Ratings Department at Project Vote Smart. For more information about the Ratings Department at Project Vote Smart, please call 1-800-VOTE-SMART or email email@example.com. Go here to see what special interest group ratings we have.
What comes to mind when you think of Minnesota? Hockey? Lakes? Maybe the movie “Grumpy Old Men”? How about Hotdishes? Although I grew up in Michigan, I was born in Minnesota, and therefore felt an obligation to understand the significance of hotdishes. I remember growing up and being told that a hotdish “ain't something you throw in the microwave”, but that was long ago, before the Mitten State and all things automotive had become my life.
Having been inspired by some of Minnesota's legislators, I decided to dive into the culture of my birth state and give it a try.
Ben Raker, one of our project managers, previously wrote a blog post about this competition. After reviewing this post, I settled on trying Representative Michelle Bachmann's recipe because I had never heard of tater tots being used as a major ingredient in a hotdish.
While the recipe was easy to follow, it turns out that planning ahead and making sure you have all the ingredients before you start cooking is generally a good idea. This being said, my hotdish wasn't exactly the same as Representative Bachmann's, because we didn't have any chicken. No worries though, because we had regular sausage and chicken sausage.
While preparing the hotdish, some expressed their doubts about what truly constitutes a casserole-like dish. Essentially, they lacked confidence in tater tots being used as a topping. However, as the hotdish continued to bake, the scent of cheesy goodness began to spread around the lodge, and hunger became the best spice.
After waiting for what felt way longer than fifty minutes, it was finally ready. There they were, two hotdishes on the table, beautiful examples of craftsmanship and innovation. One with chicken sausage, and the other with regular sausage.
There I sat, waiting at the table in silence while the others living on the ranch investigated what had been prepared for them. Slowly, bites were consumed and smiles began to appear on people's faces. While some still express their doubts about when tater tots are supposed to be used in hotdishes, it became clear to me that hotdishes, a Minnesotan delight, create camaraderie among people with differing opinions.
It is with this idea that I hope to make more of the recipes of the Minnesota legislators.