Maybe it was the flashbacks of the Plymouth Playhouse "Church Basement Ladies A Second Helping Musical" we attended last Wednesday...
Maybe it was because it is so small town... so Minnesotan that, when I saw an ad announcing a hotdish competition at Prairie Bay Restaurant in Brainerd, I knew I wanted to participate. Win or not, it was such a novel idea that I wanted to support and be part of the fun.
Last night I browned ground buffalo from A & J's Up North Buffalo Ranch in Pequot Lakes (Minnesota), cooked Canoe White 'n Wild Rice from Mille lacs Wild Rice Corp. in Aitkin (Minnesota), boiled eggs from my free-roaming organically-fed laying hens Olga, Pearl, Flossie, Opal, Henny Penny, Cora, and Phoebe, and shredded, chopped, diced, and simmered the remaining ingredients so that this morning I could assemble my hotdish to pop into the oven after serving breakfast to my B&B guests. Here I am with hotdish in hand excitedly on my way to Prairie Bay. I thought the 1956 fridge on my backporch, that we use for guests' evening desserts and beverages, enhanced the nostalgia of the hotdish theme so I chose to have my photo taken there.
No... my Beef & Cabbage with Rice Hotdish wasn't chosen by the panel of five judges consisting of 4 chefs and the father of another chef, but the waitresses were rooting for me because of my overall presentation... apron and vintage casserole dish. They thought I looked authentic... that I looked the part. The winning entry was a chicken wild rice hotdish. If I had been judging, it would have been my 1st choice, too. It was colorful with julienned carrots and the chunks of chicken breast created a striking contrast to the darkness of the wild rice. It had a nice crunch from slivered almonds and it was very tasty. (After the judging was completed, all participants were invited to sample the hotdishes.) The restaurant's owners stated that they are planning monthly competitions with salads and desserts coming up next. I had better start planning. Note: Since today is the 31st and my hotdish event took center stage, I will share my recipe for May's Cake-of-the-Month (Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake) in June.
Beef & Cabbage with Rice Makes two casseroles or one 9x13 baking dish..
1 lb ground beef or ground buffalo
2 med. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 ½ cups cooked white ‘n wild rice (Bring ¾ c rice + 1 ½ cups water or broth/stock to boil. Simmer for 20 min. until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, then let sit for 5 min.)
4-6 hard cooked eggs, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1-14 ½ oz can stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs
2 tbsp catsup
1 ¼ cups water
½ tsp garlic salt
1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 tsp salt
coarsely ground pepper
Brown ground beef with onions and garlic. Cook rice. Prepare hard boiled eggs. Melt butter in saucepan and add flour. Stir to mix. Add canned tomatoes, catsup, water, and garlic salt. Heat to a simmer. Shred cabbage. Butter casserole. (You need two casserole dishes or a 9x13 baking dish.) Add rice and chopped eggs to browned ground beef. Spread half shredded cabbage in (each) casserole then top with half meat mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper. Spread another layer of cabbage then remaining meat mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper. Pour tomato mixture over the top. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season at table with Johnny's Seasoning Salt or your own favorite.