RYAN BAKKEN: Luverne, N.D., woman wins third tater tot hotdish crown in five years
FINLEY, N.D. -- Lisa Jacobson's tater tot legend grew larger here Saturday. For the third time in its five years, the Luverne, N.D., woman won the highly coveted tater tot hotdish crown at The Press Box tavern's annual contest. She knows her tate...
FINLEY, N.D. -- Lisa Jacobson's tater tot legend grew larger here Saturday.
For the third time in its five years, the Luverne, N.D., woman won the highly coveted tater tot hotdish crown at The Press Box tavern's annual contest.
She knows her tater tots, proven by winning with three different recipes. Saturday's winner was named "Hangover Breakfast." I neglected to ask if her recipe was chosen at random or was a strategic move because the three contest judges were two members of the media and one elected official, professions with imbibing stereotypes.
"Hangover Breakfast" is basically lots of grease and other alleged food products that aren't sanctioned by the National Association of Cardiologists nor the Anti-Cholesterol League. Some of the 12 contest entries reportedly contained vegetables, but they were cleverly hidden.
Steele County Sheriff Wayne Beckman's submission was chosen runner-up by the judges -- Finley Mayor Larry Amundson, KFGO Radio's Mike McFeeley and your favorite newspaper columnist. The people's choice winner was "Grandma" Evie Clarmont, a former local resident now living in Texas.
The contest is a fund-raiser for local causes, with this year's beneficiary being the Finley Days annual celebration. This is typical of small town America. Cooking contests for the likes of pie and chili are reliable for raising money, drawing a crowd and trading barbs. And Minto, N.D., has immortalized bologna with its annual event.
However, nothing says rural North Dakota more than hotdish. And the queen of hotdishes in these parts is the tater tot variety.
So, how can $5 be better spent than sampling 12 tater tot hotdishes on a Saturday night in Finley, N.D.?
As you might suspect, the idea for the contest came from an argument in The Press Box over who makes the best tater tot dish. That argument has been settled by Lisa Jacobson.
But there's hope for the creative-minded. Last year's winner was Jerry Foss, a power company lineman. His winner was entitled "Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner," featuring layers of turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn and the mandated tater tots. Other winners include spicy chicken and taco-flavored varieties.
Press Box owner Brad Hegvick said last week that a rumor was swirling of a lutefisk-based hotdish being entered. Thankfully, the rumor was not true.
Perhaps it may happen next year. Creativity is the hallmark of the contest, held the first Saturday in April.
"A tater tot contest is kind of a joke," Hegvick said. "But it's a time of the year that is usually wet and cruddy, with nothing to do outside yet.
"So, we thought it was also a reason to get out of the house and do something fun."
Tater Tot Hotdish
Jimmy Dean sausage
Homemade deer sausage
Campbell's Fiesta Nacho Cheese soup
Stick of butter
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .