If you are from the South, France, or you’re a culinary sophisticate you call it casserole. If you live in the Midwest, are Lutheran, or a Prairie Home Companion groupie you call it hotdish.
And the centuries-old goulash that originated in Hungary? Well, that means different things to different people depending on your origins. But whatever you call the amalgam of ingredients tossed into a single pot or pan, the resulting dish is sure to delight.
The ice storms that marched their way across the country recently left me housebound and scouring the fridge and cupboards for ingredients to make a meaty, starchy, cheesy, warm, and gut-satisfying dish. The steamy, stick-to-your-ribs plate passed the family taste-test with flying colors. So this hotdish, by any other name, still tastes just as satisfying.
1 pound ground venison, browned
2 cups fresh spinach
1 ½ cups mixed frozen vegetables
1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
½ cup salsa
¾ cup rice of choice (not instant)
¼ pearl barley
2 cups homemade game stock, or chicken stock
2 ½ cups shredded cheese
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chopped flat leave parsley for garnish
In an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, begin frying out the venison. Add all dried spices and continue cooking until meat has just started to brown-up.
Add spinach, veggie mixture, tomatoes, salsa, and 1 cup of the cheese to the pot and stir.
Add barley, rice, and stock to the pot and stir. Cover and simmer until rice and barley are tender.
Uncover, top with remaining cheese and place in a preheated oven until cheese is bubbly.
Remove, dish up, and serve.