The High Art of the Hotdish, Cajun Style

When I first moved to Minnesota, I was invited to a colleague’s home for dinner. She said we were going to have a Minnesota favorite: Hotdish. The first thing I thought was, “Wow, here is somebody who likes spicy food! Great.” I marveled. “I wonder if she will use cayenne pepper or fresh chilies?” I soon learned quickly that Hotdish was a casserole and spice doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the dish.

Cookbook author Beatrice Ojkangas tells us in her book The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever (Chronicle books 2008), “The word casserole can either refer to the dish that the food is cooked in or the food itself.” She also goes on to say that casseroles became popular in the 1950s, mainly because they got the cook in and out of the kitchen fast.