January 26, 2012

"Fancy" tater tot hot dish

print by Adam Turman

a few years ago, i decided to really earn my Minnesota stripes and cook a hot dish for the very first time. not just any hot dish- THE quintessential Minnesotan hot dish. the natives talk about this dish with equal parts reverance and revulsion- something they adored as a child but could not imagine including it in their meals rotation as an adult. like it or not, the dish had become an institution, and if i was really serious about my status as a Midwesterner, i needed to make it.

there are many variations on tater tot hot dish, and it seems that however your mom made it when you were little, well, that was the "right" way and there is no room for improvement. all moms' culinary skills are not created equal though, and i skimmed some pretty blah recipes. then i thought- i wonder if anyone has tried to class up the tater tot hot dish? Minneapolis is quickly becoming a major foodie town, and one of its signature moves is gourmet comfort food.
Haute Dish is the perfect example, with the perfect name to boot) i did a couple searches for "fancy tater tot hot dish" or "gourmet tater tot hot dish" and after a few tries, i found a great starting point from a random blog written by a woman in.... you guessed it, Minneapolis.

i am not sure if she's a born'n'bred Minnesotan because she calls it "tater tot casserole." (the c word can be a serious offense to some here.) and while her recipe is great, i modified it for our own taste buds, and because i don't keep bison meat around.

4-5 cloves of garlic
a little bit of thyme
one large bag of frozen tater tots
1 lb ground beef
bundle of fresh asparagus (cut into 1" chunks)
1/2 stick of butter
4 oz. bleu cheese
8 oz. feta cheese
1 can of Amy's (or other high quality/organic) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can soy milk or regular milk (i've made it both ways)

Brown the the ground beef in a large pan on the stove top over medium-high heat.
When its mostly done, add the butter, garlic, & thyme and cook until well done, and until most of the watery liquid has evaporated. There will be buttery liquid left -thats good.

Assemble Casserole:
Mix the entire can of soup with half a can of milk, set aside.
Dump the beef/garlic/butter mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Spread it around evenly.
Place the asparagus pieces, evenly spaced, on top of the beef.
Sprinkle the bleu cheese & feta crumbles on top of the asparagus. (note- i didn't use all of either cheese- i just sprinkled it until it looked like enough)
Pour the soup/milk mixture, evenly, over all the layers.
Neatly arrange a snug layer of tater tots over all of this.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1.5 hours.
Remove the foil for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, so the tots get crispy.
It's done when the liquid is bubbling and the middle is warm. set on counter to cool a little before digging in!


Megan Troxell said...

Ooooh, that DOES sound fancy!

corrie said...

and so delicious!