Heard on the Hill

Peterson Exercises Right to Bear Arms to Win Hotdish Competition

Franken hosts the seventh annual Minnesota bake-off

From center left, Sen. Amy Klobucharand Rep. Betty McCollum size up the fare at the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s that time of the year when Al Franken makes jokes and eats casserole. Or, as the Minnesota senator and his North Star State colleagues call it, hotdish.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson won the seventh annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition with his dish that had bear meat in it.

It was called “Right to Bear Arms.”

“This bear was shot by Mike in my ag office,” Peterson said. But, he added, it was shot in Wisconsin and cooked by the staffer, not him. Franken, the host of the event, was cracking up.

The senator humorously apologized for Peterson getting political and thanked the crowd for joining the event.

[Minnesota Lawmakers are Making Hotdish Great Again]

There was a cookie scandal, though.

Al Franken Explains the Minnesota Hotdish During Annual Cook-Off

Before the names of the hotdishes were matched with the lawmakers — which included “A Prairie Home Hotdish” and “Little Hotdish on the Prairie” — no one knew who made a batch of cookies that was mysteriously placed behind a hotdish.

“I did not because I don’t cheat,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said as the lawmakers joked about whom the culprit could be.

“And this is cheating,” said Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, before a staffer admitted the freshman congressman, in his rookie hotdish competition, was the one responsible.

While last year’s competition included many dishes paying tribute to native son Prince’s passing, only Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison’s “Solidarity Kugel” hotdish had a Prince symbol on it this year.

The judges this year were Mee Moua, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and a former Minnesota state senator, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a native Minnesotan, and Ed Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health.

The competition was very tight, according to Ornstein, who said only a point or two separated first and second place.

Because of the “divisive election” in November, Franken said, “this, I think, is the most important hotdish-off ever. What this is all about is being neighbors.”

The reigning champ, Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, who also has the most wins in the delegation with four, was not present this year.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen wasn’t there because he was at a markup “on the wonderful health care bill,” Franken sarcastically announced.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.