Cravaack and Franken claim congressional hotdish crown

IMG_03471.jpg Rep. Chip Cravaack’s prize-winning hotdish.

WASHINGTON – Amid the partisan bickering in the nation’s capital, Minnesota’s Republicans and Democrats took a few minutes Wednesday to celebrate one piece of their state’s heritage they could all agree on: hotdish.

Eight of Minnesota’s 10 person Congressional delegation took part in the 2nd Annual “Hotdish Off” hosted by DFL Sen. Al Franken in a Capitol Hill conference room. Reps. John Kline and Betty McCollum didn’t participate.

Former Minnesota Congressman and Republican strategist Vin Weber and House Chaplain Patrick Conroy judged the eight entries, none of which could be remotely described as health food. Franken and first-term Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack both placed first, a decision that prompted good-natured cries of “Recount!” from some members of the crowd, in a nod to the lengthy recount Franken faced before joining the Senate in 2009.

Franken’s entry was called Sen. Franken’s Mom’s Mahnomin Madness Hotdish and included Minnesota-grown Mahnomen rice, turkey, mushrooms, parmesan cheese and gravy.

Cravaack’s Minnesota Wild Strata included french bread, a dozen eggs, nearly a pound of cheddar cheese, pork sausage and wild rice grown by the Fon Du Lac Chippewa band from Cravaack’s district.

Cravaack’s Minnesota Wild Strata


• Loaf of French bread, sliced and cubed

• 12 eggs, beaten

• 4 cups of milk, divided

• 3 teaspoons of dry mustard

• 15 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

• 2 pounds of ground pork sausage, browned and drained

• 1 cup of cooked Minnesota wild rice

• 1 (10.75 ounces) can cream of Mushroom soup


1. Place French bread in a well greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Mix eggs, three cups milk and dry mustard together. Carefully pour over bread. Sprinkle cheese, sausage and wild rice over bread.

2. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Before baking, mix cream of mushroom soup and 1 cup milk together and spread over bread mixture.

3. Bake covered at 375 degrees for one hour. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

*The rice was produced by the Fon Du Lac Band of Chippewa, and aside from the eggs, all the ingredients were organic.

Sen. Franken’s Mom’s Mahnomin Madness Hotdish


• 1 pound of wild rice (Mahnomen)

• 1 stick of butter

• 10 cloves of garlic

• 3 medium sized yellow onions

• 4 stalks of celery

• 2 pounds of white button mushrooms

• 2 cans (8 ounces each) of water chestnuts, drained, then sliced into quarter-inch rounds

• 1 can cream of mushroom soup (diluted with 1/2 cup of water)

• salt to taste

• Roast turkey – pulled from the bone

• Turkey gravy (au jus)

• 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese


1. In a colander, rinse the wild rice.

2. Put the rice in a pot, and cover with 3 inches of water. Boil in a pot, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using Mahnomen wild rice, it will cook more quickly than the paddy variety.

3. While the rice is boiling, slice (do not mince) the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and celery.

4. Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until they begin to bleed a little liquid into the butter. Then add the mushrooms. The celery and onions should not be totally soft.

5. Once the rice has cooked, drain it and add to the sautéed vegetables.

6. Add pulled turkey and gravy, water chestnuts.

7. Place mixture in casserole dish, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, and place in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until top is browned and hot dish is heated through.

  • Pat

    Cravaack carpetbags to the district from New Hampshire, where his kids and wife reside. He is no Minnesotan, but he does spend a lot of time pretending to be a resident.

  • BAB

    Where in NH did Rep Cravaack find a can of organic cream of mushroom soup?

  • Deb

    I want to know who were the two (2) who opted out. Why would they opt out??

  • Jennifer Gumbel

    Really. A nice non-partisan activity in Washington and some can’t help but spend the time to make partisan dig in a comments section? No wonder our politics is screwed up. Kudos to the MN delegation for having an event where D’s and R’s aren’t throttling each other.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Here’s a non-partisan question:

    Why is this considered “newsworthy,” by MPR?

    Recipes? This is included now with the political coverage? Isn’t “recipes from politicians” something that belongs on some kind of “features/lifestyle/living” page, instead of the news coverage?

    If you open the door for this kind of light-weight c**p in your news coverage, MPR will have a reputation for being as light-weight as the Star Tribune (“SUMMER’S HERE!” headlines.)

    Don’t do it. You have some good stories here, regularly, and you’ve got the Daily Digest. The recipes c**p is worth about one sentence in the Daily Digest, if that. Don’t devote “column space” to it. It makes all of you look shallow.

  • Buck

    Pat – are you suggesting we now have a Congressman like for Rep. James Oberstar who stopped living in Minnesota over 36 years ago and still wanted us to believe he was interested in Minnesota issues?

  • JD

    I concur with Buck, and add I have to laugh at the “lefts” selective outrage at Rep. Cravaack’s wife taking a job and moving to New Hampshire, meanwhile it didn’t seem to bother them that Jim Oberstar lived in a multimillion dollar estate on the Potomac river or currently its ok for Sen. Al Franken to live in New York, while only maintaining a small condo in MN.