A Minnesota classic! Tater Tot Hotdish gets lightened up, including a homemade cream soup base, sautéed vegetables, ground beef, and yes – tater tots! Surprisingly simple, this recipe comes together easily making it a great weeknight meal!
Ya heard of it?
How about casserole? Now am I speaking your language?
Either way, for me (and arguably, many other Minnesotans), hotdish or casserole evokes strong memories of snowy days…
Playing outside, regardless of the the temperature, and being called in by mom/dad/grandma.
Being greeted by the overwhelming salivating smell coming from the kitchen.
Peeling off snow-soaked mittens, hats, pants, and jackets as quickly as possible.
Bounding the stairs, two at a time (because you WILL beat your brother), and promptly being redirected to the bathroom to “wash those paws”.
Sitting down at your designated seat at the precise moment as dinner hits the table.
Now that I’ve illustrated my dinnertime routine in my household growing up, I have something to admit. And actually, I’m pretty embarrassed. Intrigued? (Please don’t be). Are you ready? (I’m not).
Ok. I’VE NEVER MADE TATER TOT HOT DISH BEFORE.
There. I said it. I don’t think I can even technically call myself a Minnesotan anymore.
But here’s the deal: casseroles? Always a staple in my house growing up. But my parents, being mindful of what they were feeding my sibs and I, never ventured in to the tater-tot-laden, condensed-soup-based, sloppy slop that (I’ve always thought!) is Tater Tot Hot Dish.
Holy sh*t was I wrong.
Well, for starters, I’ve titled this recipe “Lightened Up” for a reason. Referring to aforementioned “condensed soup base”, that is a huge NO in my book. What’s in the jiggly concentrate that comes out of that can?! I actually don’t even want to know. That said, the base of this dear recipe is a homemade creamed soup base. And the best part? You more than likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen RIGHT NOW.
Chicken Broth+Milk+Flour+Spices (salt, garlic powder, onion powder). E-A-S-Y. This is the first thing you’ll want to get started.
Then we sauté some ground beef. We set that aside.
Next we sauté a little mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) in the leftover grease from the beef, and throw in some frozen corn (#shortcut) and fresh chopped mushrooms.
Add some of that creamed soup base (about half of it). That all gets dumped in the bottom of a 9×11 baking dish, like so.
And then, we add the ground beef.
Next comes the rest of that NON-FAKE, HOMEMADE creamed soup.
Top with some freshly grated sharp cheddar.
Please, folks. Grate your own. I’ve had a lot of recent discussion with some friends about how magical freshly grated cheese truly is. It melts better. It tastes better. It IS better.
TOP WITH THOSE TOTS!
Up next, we bake it. In a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Prepare to (im)patiently wait.
AND THEN…..IT HAPPENS.
THIS IS NOT A TEST. I could cry looking back at these photos. Good gracious, was this delicious.
And I wouldn’t be a proper Minnesotan (I know, I know – we’ve already addressed this), if I didn’t have a serving spoon with some kitchy Minnesota saying.
“Oooh sure. Ain’t it the cah-you-test?”
One last very Minnesotan thought for you.
Please tell me you’ve heard of the long-debated topic of “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck”. Apparently, Tater Tot Hot Dish isn’t the only thing making Minnesotans unique. Across the country, most others say, “Duck, Duck, Goose” while playing the children’s game.
Not here. And apparently, this could be attributed to the deep Scandanavian roots here in the North Star State. Supposedly there were two Swedish versions of this game, each of which translates to the respective version of the game.
Whether this is fact or fiction, the “Gray Duck” culture runs deep in Minnesota. This cute kitchen towel was given to me by a girlfriend who didn’t grow up in Minnesota, and finds the whole thing hysterical.
But we don’t.
SO START SAYING GRAY DUCK OK.
One last thing worth mentioning. When I shared with family and friends that I was making Tater Tot Hotdish for the blog, everyone had VERY strong opinions about what belongs in – and what does NOT belong in – this classic.
What do you put in your favorite hot dish or casserole? Comment below – I would love to know!