CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Tater Totchos

Nachos are a popular appetizer for today’s football tailgaters. And there is no limit to the number of ways that this party food can be customized.

Recently, I came across a recipe on Facebook that takes nachos to another level. It’s from Marit Mikkelson of Grand Forks, a University of North Dakota fan who posted a photo of “Tater Totchos”  a few days before the Potato Bowl game a couple of weeks ago. As you might guess, Marit’s recipe substitutes tater tots for corn chips, which sounded pretty interesting to me.

Here’s how Marit described her creation, which I bet she’ll be making before Saturday’s home game between UND and UC-Davis:

“Deep-fried tater tots with whatever spices you’d like to add to them, ground beef seasoned to taste like taco meat, shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, black olives, jalapeños and a sriracha Ranch sauce mixed in whatever ratio you’d like depending on how spicy or mild you’d like it.”

I’ve decided to give the recipe a try, perhaps this weekend. I’m probably going to bake the tater tots instead of deep-frying them and maybe add a couple of my own touches.

I’ve got a feeling they’ll score a touchdown with whomever tries them!

Tater Totchos
1 19-ounce package frozen tater tots
1 pound ground beef
1 4-ounce package taco seasoning
1 cup romaine lettuce (shredded)
½ cup pico de gallo
½ cup guacamole
½ cup sour cream
½ cup green onions
Sriracha/Ranch sauce
Shredded cheese
Black olives, chopped
Tomatoes, chopped
Jalapeño peppers, chopped
Place tater tots on a rimmed baking sheet and bake according to package directions. Make sure to cook the tater tots 2 or 3 minutes longer than the package says. You’ll want them crispy and golden brown. Use a spatula to gently flip the tots once after they’ve been in for about 15 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef to the skillet and use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Add taco seasoning according to package directions and cook the meat until it is browned (and no longer pink) and crumbly.
Set pan of cooked meat aside (covered, to keep it warm) until the tots are done. Remove tots from the oven; allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Distribute tots evenly between 4 to 6 small plates (or medium bowls).
Pile on the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and a few tablespoons of pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, green onions, sriracha and cheese onto each plate of tots.
Serve immediately with forks.

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