Al Franken issues hot dish challenge to Minnesota politicians


Politics in Washington can be pretty polarized these days, but among Minnesota's congressional delegation yesterday, it wasn't rhetoric that was heated, it was casserole.

In the new and no doubt temporary spirit of unity infecting Congress lately, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken had issued a bipartisan challenge to the state's Washington politicians: Who makes the best hot dish?

That challenge was taken up by DFLers Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Representatives Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Tim Walz, and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Here's what they brought--and who won the political potluck.

The purpose of the competition, according to a Franken press release, was to "bring the delegation together at the start of the new session to celebrate Minnesota before tackling the issues facing the state."

The hot dish entries were judged in a blind tasting by a bipartisan panel consisting of former congressmen Vin Weber (Republican) and Gerry Sikorski (DFL), and MinnPost reporter Derek Wallbank.

Franken's entry was a wild rice and turkey casserole, according to the St. Cloud Times, while Ellison submitted a classic tuna and noodle dish. McCollum's hot dish was made with pork, cranberries, and wild rice; Walz baked a wild rice, chicken, and mushroom mix; while Bachmann brought an outside-the-box entry of homemade sauerkraut and venison brats.

But when the judging was completed and votes tallied, the Times reports, it was Klobuchar's Taconite Tater Tot hot dish--a casserole with ground beef, tots, and pepper jack cheese--that won the day.

Bachmann later tweeted: "I enjoyed the bipartisan #MN Hot Dish Competition this afternoon with my colleagues. The event showcased great MN cuisine," and Franken's office has posted all of the recipes, including Klobuchar's winning entry, here.

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