Comfort food means different things to different people, but it usually involves flavours from your childhood.
In my case, comfort food means warm buttermilk biscuits (scones), butter, hot seafood chowder or a good, creamy casserole.
We love a good casserole in Canada. And we also love using tinned soup as a shortcut to making a sauce.
I didn't know much about Minnesota hot dish until recently, but it ticks a lot of those boxes for me.
According to eater.com, this casserole is the state dish of Minnesota and can be made with a variety of "what's available" ingredients, but always uses a protein, vegetable and a starch.
The ones I most often see use minced beef, frozen or tinned vegetables (like green beans or sweetcorn) and are topped with frozen tater tots (like hash browns but cylindrical) and shredded cheese. You could almost call it a cottage pie. Almost!
A feature of the hot dish is that magical binding ingredient - tinned cream soup! This is what speaks to me, as a Canadian.
I love any kind of casserole featuring tinned soup! So I thought I would try this recipe out on a recent busy school night.
I had minced beef, some boiled new potatoes and frozen green beans. And it worked a treat!
It's a mild enough dish for your kids to enjoy, but you can also feel good knowing they are getting a few veggies in.
Now, I would have loved to have done the tater tots on top, but I found sliced boiled potatoes to be great. They crisped up nicely in the oven and were a great vessel for the cheese to melt into.
Serves six hungry people
500g beef or pork mince
1 tbsp rapeseed oil or butter
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
200g frozen green beans
2 tins cream of mushroom soup
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
400g par-boiled potatoes, sliced
100g shredded cheddar cheese
1 Preheat your oven to 180°C and set aside a large casserole dish.
2 Mince your onions and garlic, then in a large skillet (on medium high heat), melt the butter or add the oil and then the onions. Fry gently for around five minutes, until the onions are soft and cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
3 Add the beef or pork to the skillet and break up into little pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until completely cooked through; about 10 minutes. Add to a large mixing bowl.
4 Add the tinned soup to the mixing bowl along with the frozen green beans. Mix thoroughly and season with the salt and pepper. Add this mixture to the casserole dish.
5 Spread the meat mixture evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer the sliced potatoes on top, letting the edges overlap.
6 Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until bubbly and piping hot and the cheese has started to bubble and brown.
7 Serve hot on its own or with a side salad. This will keep in the fridge for four days.