Once upon a time there was a little girl who adored church potlucks. She really couldn’t decide which she loved best, hugs from snuggly grandmas or their comforting dishes that sat upon the potluck table. One dish always stood out in the crowd, okay, maybe two. The first was a blackberry crumble. I… er… she was old enough to bake and wanted so badly to ask for the recipe but somehow it felt inappropriate to do so at a funeral.
The other was tator tot casserole. Although anyone can throw together some tots and cream of mystery soup, homemade is always the very best.
Tator Tot Casserole Ingredients
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium diced onion
- 1 pound ground chicken, turkey or beef
- Salt & pepper
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 32 ounces chicken stock
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
- One 16 ounce package tator tots
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Cook onions in olive oil until golden brown (caramelized) then remove onions from pan and set aside.
Add and cook ground meat. Season with salt & pepper. I find ground turkey more flavorful than beef. Healthier too. We need all the health we can get because like I said, this dish is quite sinful.
Preheat oven to 350F.
If using ground beef, remove most of the excess grease, leaving a few tablespoons of it in the pan.
Sprinkle flour over meat & onions.
Stir flour into mixture and cook for about five minutes while continuing to stir so that flour cooks (otherwise your sauce will taste like raw flour).
After flour is cooked, add chicken (or beef) stock. Continue to stir over heat. Over time, the sauce will thicken.
Add fresh or frozen peas & carrots to your liking. Celery or water chestnuts can add a nice crunch if you like. Season with salt, pepper and your favorite house seasonings (like Johnny’s, Spike or Lawry’s). Now is a great time to try your sauce for flavor & see if it needs anything. The meat is cooked, after all.
Fill bottom of dish with meat sauce. Place tator tots in an orderly fashion on top of sauce. I used two 8 inch pans (since I was taking one of them to a couple who is celebrating having their first baby) but this recipe works great for one 9 X 13 pan.
Bake about 20-30 minutes or until tator tots are golden brown & sauce is bubbly.
Do three hail Marys, take communion, complete one Zumba class and then add grated real cheddar cheese over tots.
Bake again until cheese is melted and bubbly and sign up to take Zumba class regularly.
Consider yourself snuggled by a grandma, then go eat an apple. I’m sorry. You’re welcome. I’m sorry.