CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Tater Tot Hotdish

Most kids like pasta, be it in spaghetti, lasagna or a good casserole. And not many of them would turn up their noses at a good hotdish that contains pasta, either.

For that matter, the same goes for adults. Show me anyone who doesn’t like a pasta hotdish, and I’ll show you a picky eater.

Tater Tot Hotdish
Tater Tot Hotdish

Take my grandson, for example. He loves his grandma’s pasta hotdish. (If I was stuck in a blizzard like some of those folks out East earlier this week, I know what I would make. Grandma’s hotdish!)

I think the same may be said about kids and potatoes.  Rakeem loves spuds, no matter if mashed, baked, oven-boiled, etc.

So, one dish I’m thinking of making is  a tater tot hotdish. Anyone who has attended a luncheon after a funeral  knows that the chances of sampling a tater tot hotdish is high.

Most tater tot hotdishers usually contains ground beef, a mixture of veggies such as corn, green beans, carrots and peas and a can or two of some kind of creamed soup, such as mushroom or chicken. And it’s usually top with grated cheese.

Here’s the recipe I’m contemplating. And I bet a lot of the people who were stuck at home during the recent storm in New England wouldn’t turn up their noses at this!

Tater Tot Hotdish
1 pound ground beef
1 1-pound package tater tots
2 10-ounce cans condensed cream of mushroom soup (or 3 cans if you want it extra creamy)
1 or 2 14-ounce cans vegetables (whole-kernel corn, green beans, etc.)
Onion and garlic powder (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
While the oven is preheating, brown the ground beef (seasoning to taste as you cook) and drain off the grease.
Spread the beef in the bottom of a 2- to 2½-quart baking dish.
Drain the liquid off the vegetables and spread them over the meat.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the cans of soup over the top of the vegetables and meat. Use the soup as is, straight from the can. Do not mix it with anything.
Arrange a layer of tater tots over the top of that.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Top with your favorite variety of shredded cheese as you serve.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 659 calories, 57 percent of calories from fat, 42.2 grams fat (13.7 grams saturated), 77.1 milligrams  cholesterol, 1,624.1 milligrams sodium, 43.6 grams carbohydrates, 5.1 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams sugars, 26.5 grams protein.

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