a few months ago, i was flipping through a few of eggmum's old church cookbooks when i found my stripper name in the casserole chapter of the 1984 our savior's lutheran book: chinese hotdish. it was nestled between beef pie and oriental hotdish, and i took it as a sign for my true calling. not to be a stripper, but to finally become a true woman of the north by making a hotdish.
ok, what is a hotdish.
if you're not from the northern midwest, you probably know it as a casserole. from what i understand, all hotdishes can be considered casseroles, but not all casseroles are hotdishes because a true hotdish has three main components--meat, vegetables, and creamed soup--which are dumped into a casserole dish, and then, in the words of sam sifton, you cover the bitch in tater tots and bake it. some hotdishes use wild rice or mashed potatoes or another type of grain or starch instead of tater tots, although covering the bitch in tater tots is really fun to say.
so, like, technically you can make a mac and cheese casserole, but without meat and a vegetable, it wouldn't totally be a hotdish.
all of this is obviously up for debate and i am in no way an authority, i'm just going by church cookbook research, wikipedia, and the delicious hotdishes that eggmama makes. (and whether it's hot dish or hotdish is still something i do not know.)
hotdishes are as comforting as a new fleece blanket on a cold winter day and they make excellent leftovers. here are some examples of things that you can put into a casserole dish in order to make a hotdish:
hamburger meat + peas + cream of mushroom soup + tater tots
pulled chicken + wild rice + celery + cream of chicken soup
chopped spam + macaroni noodles + cream of mushroom soup + velveeta cheese + onions
i have never tried that spam one, but if you were to place the other ones on an x/y chart where x = how much it looks like barf, and y = how delicious it is, they would be maxed out on both accounts. that's the charm of a hotdish.
for my first hotdish, i've made a variation on the chinese hotdish in the our savior's lutheran book. as much as i loved the sort of imaginary camaraderie of standing in the creamed soup section, piling cans upon cans into my basket, and then coming home and placing them on the shelf marked with a handwritten label for "cream of mush" that egggrandma must have made decades ago, i couldn't actually bring myself to use it without first trying some less processed options.
i know, coconut milk isn't technically a creamed soup, but it is creamy, and slightly sweet, and the results even got the eggboy seal of approval. i used brown rice to up the healthy ante, and scallions to add flavor and greenery. a little ginger here and some ground pork or chicken there, and this guy might even be ready for the annual hotdish competition.
makes 3-4 servings
1 pound ground chicken or pork
2 tb soy sauce
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 c brown rice (short or medium grain)
1 c chicken broth
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (regular or light)
4 stalks scallions, minced
crispy noodles or crispy fried shallots, for topping
preheat oven to 375.
in a small* dutch oven or other stove-safe/oven-safe dish, brown your meat with the soy sauce, ginger, and a few turns of black pepper.
*the dutch oven that's pictured has a 2 quart capacity. also, if you don't have a stove-safe/oven-safe dish, you can certainly brown the meat separately and then add it to a casserole dish.
add the brown rice, chicken broth, coconut milk, and scallions, and give it a little swirl.
bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the rice is tender. it will still be slightly liquidy. let it cool for about 10 minutes, top with noodles or shallots, and enjoy!