Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tatertot Hotdish

My mom and dad returned north after snow-birding in Florida and I thought it would be nice to stock their fridge with some comforts of home.  And let's face it.  Nothing says comfort like Tatertot Hotdish.

Having just spent 14 years in The South, I have come to the realization that, unless you are of Scandinavian descent, have recently watched the movie Fargo or are specifically from Minnesota, you probably don't know what Hotdish is.

Until recently, I thought it was just some midwestern, less fancy word for casserole, but there are some key differences.  The exact origin of the word "Hotdish" is not documented, but some believe the word stems form the Norwegian word "Varmretter" which means simple, "warm dishes".  And this makes sense, because, despite the growing melting pot, there are still a lot of Norwegians around here.  The word "casserole", on the other hand, is a French word that means to cook in one baking dish and that one dish is called a casserole. So here's the clincher.  While all Hotdishes could be considered Casseroles, not all Casseroles qualify as a Hotdish.  

 A Hotdish contains three mandatory ingredients and one optional one:
  1. Meat
  2. Starch
  3. Binder (Usually canned cream soup)
  4. Vegetables (optional), usually canned or frozen
Therefore, while Tatertot Hotdish could also be called Tatertot Casserole, Green Bean Casserole or Squash Casserole could not be called a Hotdish.

Are we clear, yet?


Today's Tatertot Hotdish starts out by sauteing one diced onion and one cup of diced, fresh carrots.  I know, I got a little fancy with the fresh, diced carrots, but it's one of those vegetables that tastes so much better fresh.  Personally, I don't even take the short cut with the baby carrots.  I use the real deal peeled.

Next, brown up a couple pounds of hamburger.
It's a traditional Hotdish staple.

For a recipe this size, you can use 2-3 cans of cream of anything soup.
I went with one of each, Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom.

Add the soup to the hamburger and mix.

Now, I'm a big veggie person, so I like to use this opportunity to hide as many veggies under the cheese and tatertots as I possibly can.  But you can use fewer if you want.  I won't judge.

If you went the two soup can route and the extra veggie route, you might want to add a little extra milk.  It's optional.

Now pour the mixture into a 9x13 inch pan.

Top with cheese....

And a full two pounds of tatertots.
I mean, this is Tatertot Hotdish afterall!

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the tatertots are golden and crunchy.

(Ketchup is optional, but highly recommended!)

Tatertot Hotdish
Serves 8-10 hungry people

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2-3 cans of cream of something soup
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup milk (optional)
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
32-ounce bag tatertots

Saute the onions and carrots in 1 tablespoon of canola oil, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Brown 2 pounds of ground beef.  Season with salt.  Add the onions and carrots back into the pan.  Add Creamed Soup and stir.  Add frozen veggies and stir some more.  Add milk, if needed.  Pour hamburger/veggie mixture into a greased 9x13 inch pan.  Top with cheese and then tatertots. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tatertots are good and crunchy.

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