Sunday, August 28, 2016

A North Dakotan/Minnesotan Classic

I lived in North Dakota, (my first generation Russian German aunt Helen's homestate) for six years, from 1990 until 1996. During that time, I was introduced to this glorious recipe called Tater Tot Hotdish.  Along with kuchen, fleischkuekle, knoephla, and stop sign pizza (that last one isn't regional--it's just the greatest food EVER when you're in first grade) this recipe defines my brief time in North Dakota in every possible way.  (At that young age, there were three ways to know you were going to have an awesome day at Prairie View Elementary School--1) there was a parachute in the gym, 2) the TV was pulled into the classroom for a film, or 3)Tater tot hotdish was on the lunch menu.)  

There are many variations of this, but here's the version I have in my recipe box:

Tater Tot Hotdish
Serves 4-6

1 lb of lean ground beef
1 lb bag of tater tots
2 10-ounce cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup
14 ounce can of vegetables of your choice (corn is often used; I prefer peas and carrots)
2 cups of cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While it's preheating, brown and drain beef. In a 2.5 quart casserole dish, layer beef, drained vegetables, soup mix (don't add water to this!), and tater tots. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove from oven; top with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes longer.
A Note from Bethany...
To make this recipe lower in fat, I use low sodium cream of mushroom soup. Some versions also use turkey in place of beef. I also use a lower fat sharp cheddar cheese made with 2% milk. (Some versions of the recipe omit it entirely). It won't make it a health food by any means, but it'll help cut down on the guilt!