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

Kids love tater tots. That’s a given. So it probably goes without saying that a hotdish or casserole that contains tater tots would be popular the youngsters.

But it’s not just kids who love tater tots. Whenever I’ve mentioned them to friends or former co-workers, just about all of them rave about a favorite tater tot dish.

I remember a few years ago writing about Minnesota Sen. Al Franken’s annual hotdish competition for members of the state’s congressional delegation. The winner that year was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who entered her Taconite Tater Tot Hotdish recipe.

Here a couple of tater tot hotdish recipes, the first from Betty Crocker and the other from a blog post of mine from a couple of years ago. Both of them have a south-of-the-border or Tex-Mex theme and would be great for a potluck or family get-together.

Or maybe just for supper tonight!

Texas Tater Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium stalk celery, chopped (½ cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 10¾ ounce cans condensed Cheddar cheese soup
1 11-ounce can whole-kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained
½ cup Old El Paso Thick ‘n Chunky picante sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 16-ounce bag frozen potato nuggets
½ cup shredded taco-seasoned cheese (2 ounces)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook beef, onion, celery and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
Stir soup, corn, picante, chili powder and pepper into beef mixture. Spoon into ungreased 2½-quart casserole. Top with frozen potato nuggets.
Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 540 calories, 31 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1,810 milligrams sodium, 45 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 25 grams protein.
Notes: You can use salsa in place of the picante sauce in this recipe. There’s no need to peel garlic cloves when you use a garlic press. Simply pop the clove, skin and all, into the press, then squeeze. The garlic flesh will be forced through the mesh, while the skin stays in the press. Frozen potato nuggets also come in onion flavor and in mini-size nuggets. Try one of these to complement this casserole.

Tater Tot Taco Bake
Tater Tot Taco Bake

Tater Tot Taco Bake
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion (diced)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 1-ounce package taco seasoning mix
1 16-ounce bag frozen corn
1 4-ounce can green chilies, diced and drained
1 12-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce bag shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 16-ounce package frozen tater tots
1 10.5-ounce can enchilada sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add ground beef, garlic and onion and cook while breaking the meat apart with a spoon or spatula until the ground beef is completely browned. Drain off any excess fat. Add taco seasoning mix, green chilies, frozen corn and black beans to the ground beef. Cook until heated through. In a large bowl, combine ground beef mixture, ¾ of the Mexican cheese blend and all of the tater tots. Stir well to combine. Pour about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add the tater tot mixture to the baking dish and lightly pat the mixture down into a solid, even layer. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tater tots. Place into the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. During the last few minutes of baking, top the casserole with the remaining Mexican cheese blend and the sliced black olives. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
2 pounds tomatoes (I like to take skins off)
1 jalapeno pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
2½ cups tomato juice (I like to use homemade)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Place all in food processor. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

One thought on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Tater Tot Hotdish”

  • Therese March 24, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Jeff substituted nacho cheese for the cheddar cheese soup when he made this last night and it was “souper” delicious. We added a little lettluce and chopped tomato for a perfect little salad accompaniment.


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