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Monday, February 4, 2019

Tater Casserole with a Few Updates

I grew up on casseroles. My mom had many casserole recipes that she would make for the family. One of my favorites was the tater tot casserole. In the tater tot casserole there was no question who the star of the show was. The creamy and cheesiness of the casserole was made even better by the tater tots.

Her tater tot casserole was something like this

2 lb hamburger
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can whole kernel or cream style corn
1 pkg. frozen tater tots

Brown hamburger and put in cake pan.  Mix onion soup, chicken soup and corn and pour over meat.  Top with frozen tater tots.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until tater tots are nice and brown.

Now days, a few adaptions have been made to bring the tater tot casserole into the family. With flavor changes and diet changes check out these two casseroles and see what you think.

1 lb ground beef
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 can Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce
2 oz cream cheese
2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
16 oz crispy crown tater tots

1. In large  skillet, cook ground beef with peppers and onions; drain.
2. Stir in corn, Manwich sauce, and cream cheese.
3. Continue cooking over low heat until cream cheese melts and combines.
4. Pour mixture into 9×13 baking dish.
5. Top with half of the cheese.
6. Arrange frozen tater tots in single layer over top.
7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
8. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.

Vegetarian Tater Tot Hotdish
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups vegetable broth
2 T butter
2 T all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper
4 oz colby jack cheese, shredded
1 lb green beans, trimmed
1 onion, chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
2 T sherry
Most of a 24 oz package of frozen tater tots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan in preparation of making a roux.  When the butter has melted and the water from the butter has evaporated, add the flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes or until the mixture no longer smells like raw flour.  Add the milk and let the mixture thicken and then add the vegetable broth.  Let the mixture thicken again and then taste it and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.  Then, whisk in the cheese until melted.  Set the sauce aside, off the heat, until ready to use.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan with a bit of olive oil.  Add the onions, season, and let them cook until they just are beginning to show some color.  Then add the mushrooms.  Season the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms have softened.  Add the sherry and cook until almost all of the sherry has evaporated, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan as it cooks.

Now mix the beans, onions, and mushrooms together.  (Use your baking dish if you like or a large bowl.)  Then add about half of the sauce.  Keep adding sauce until the mixture look fairly wet but there isn’t a large amount of sauce in the bottom of the bowl.  If you end up adding too much sauce, just add some tater tots to the mix to thicken it up again.  Place the mixture in a 9X13 baking pan and then spread a layer of tater tots over the top.  Bake for about 30 minutes and then, if the tater tots aren’t crisp, turn on the broiler and get them nice and crispy.  Serve immediately.

A few notes:  1)  If you really want to up the “tater totness” of the dish or if you end up needing to thicken up the sauce, just add some tater tots to the sauce and vegetable mixture.  They taste fine there and work great as a filler.  And since there’s probably going to be some tater tots left over in the package anyway. . . well, you might just want to do it everytime.   2)  Really care about the crispness of the tots.  This dish is not good unless the tots are really, really crispy and good.  3)  Of course you could you chicken broth instead of vegetable broth and if you needed to add meat, ground beef would work as would diced cooked chicken.  Make/add more sauce as needed.  Enjoy!

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