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Recipe: Hot Dish (a.k.a....hamburger casserole?)

Sep 20, 2011 12:22AM ● Published by Anonymous

I remember a lot of things about those summers, which ended when I was around 12 years old. We would spend a week at my father's parents house, where we would make cookies with Grandma Collins, pull up carrots and radishes from the large garden in the backyard, and play a completely incorrect version of croquet.

We'd spend another week with my mom's mother, and what I remember most of that is the food -- Grandma Olson was famous for her fried chicken and potato salad. Every meal also had a plate full of olives, radishes, and baby dill pickles. My sister and I loved pickles so much that we would sneak them off the plate and, at least once, got in trouble because we ate all the baby dill pickles in the house before dinner began.

However, my favorite dish made by Grandma Olson was something that was only called "Hot Dish." I've later learned that hot dish is a term that midwesterners give to really any type of casserole, but in my mind, this is the one and only hot dish. My dad has also jokingly referred to it as "Lots," as in "it makes lots!" Which it does.

This isn't the classiest or most upscale meal. It's essentially just pasta, hamburger, tomatoes, and some sauteed veggies. But it's also incredibly comforting and brings me back to those summers in Minnesota, full of mosquitoes, the Minnesota state fair, and playing in the backyard sprinklers. My Grandma Olson is now 95 years old, and she's not making hot dish anymore -- but I think about her every time I make it. In a funny twist, it is also now the dish my husband requests the most for dinner.

Hot Dish

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
28 ounces diced tomatoes, juice and all
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can Campbell's tomato soup
3/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until halfway done (about six minutes), drain, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil a large skillet over medium heat. Add the hamburger and brown, and then remove from pan. Add the onion, celery, and green pepper, and sauté until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and mix together. Return the beef to the pan.

In 9x13 pan, layer the al dente macaroni and top with the beef mixture. Stir to combine, and cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Check on it at 30 minutes, stir, and if it's too dry, add water or chicken broth. If it's too wet, take off the foil cover.

Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.


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