Winter Comfort: Tater Tot Hotdish
Creamy veggie and beef casserole topped with crispy tater tots. A top tier comfort food for dark winter nights.
Although my family never made tater tot hotdish when I was a kid, the dish ranks among my most favorite comfort foods, right up there with my Grandma's pumpkin pie and my mom's spaghetti and meatballs. Although the meal is certainly not the healthiest (but what comfort food really is?), it gives you a complete meal with veggies, meat, and potatoes, at least by Midwest standards!
Warms you up from the inside out!
I started making tater tot hotdish when I was a grad student at the University of Minnesota. If you ask 10 Minnesotans for a recipe for tater tot hotdish, you'll probably get 10 very different answers. You'll always have the tater tots on top, some sort of creamed soup, and usually ground beef (but not always!). I like the crushed red pepper flakes to give it a bit of heat, but that's definitely not a traditional Minnesotan ingredient! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Tater Tot Hotdish (6-8 servings)
1 lb ground beef (I like 80% lean/20% fat for this dish)
1lb bag frozen stir fry vegetables
1 small onion, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar soup
1 bag Oreida Extra Golden Tater Tots
Preheat oven to 450F.
Cook ground beef until mostly browned, then add onions and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until beef is fully browned and onions are translucent.
At the same time, defrost the frozen veggies in the microwave. If there are onions in your mix or you don't want to use the microwave, you should add the veggies to the same pan as the beef and onion. It is very important to cook any onions in some sort of fat. The raw onion flavor will overpower the dish if you don't cook them.
Place meat and veggies in a 11x14 casserole dish and stir in the soups until well combined.
Cover with tater tots, making sure to spread the tots evenly across the top. Some people line them up in rows or make a fancy design, but I'm lazy and just pour them over the top and spread them out. If you have more tots than will cover a single layer, keep additional layers toward the edges as these will cook faster.
Bake in oven uncovered until the soup starts to bubble up in the middle of the dish, about 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly before eating.