My P.S., my cousin and I popped over to a neighborhood diner the other night for dinner. We’d been there many times and were charmed with their daily specials. This night they had tater tot hotdish as the special and we all happily ordered that for dinner. It was almost as good as the hotdish I grew up with and raised my kids on, but it was missing the frozen vegetables. You gotta have those!
We live near a potato factory, downwind in fact. I’ve smelled so many tater tots and fried potatoes in their various forms for so many years that I rarely want to buy and make them! I don’t even usually eat the French fries the nights we grab a burger for dinner. So here I am standing in the grocery store telling my P.S. I want to buy tater tots. He was amazed and amused. When he heard “tater tot hotdish”, he was pleased.
I thawed 2 lbs of ground beef and was ready to make hotdish. Real hotdish, not casserole. Lutherans up North know how to make a hotdish. This particular recipe is from one of my childhood church cookbooks, submitted by Bonnie Balzer. Tater tot hotdish was always a favorite at our church potluck dinners.
I spread pieces of the raw ground beef all over the bottom of my lasagna pan. I know, it being raw surprised me the first few times too. But it works, trust me. It’s going to be in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. The meat will get thoroughly cooked.
I layered the onion over top of the meat. You could stick to peas and carrots or whatever frozen vegetable you prefer. We like the mixed vegetables. Remember to use a generous amount of salt and pepper over the meat and onion. I used about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
I rinsed the vegetables before spreading them over the meat and onion. My bag had ice crystals and I didn’t want extra water in the hotdish.
Next I layered on the soups. Canned soup? Gasp? Yes, we avoid them due to the msg thing but for this hotdish, they need to be used. I spread them over the vegetables with a silicone spatula.
Finally the tater tots. I spread them over the top and slid the pan into my preheated oven. I set the timer for 1 1/2 hours and waited for the aroma to begin to fill the kitchen.
I served the hotdish with a simple lettuce salad and we were very pleased with our comfort food. Some people drizzle ketchup over it (my brothers did) but it’s great as is. I do prefer to sort of mash it all together with my fork so I get a mouthful that includes all of the ingredients.
You could freeze portions of the hotdish for quick meals later. It does freeze very well.
Tater Tot Hotdish
The tater tot hotdish our mom used to make.
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion; finely chopped
- 20 oz frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 2 can cream of mushroom soup
- 32 oz tater tots
- salt and pepper
In bottom of a 11 x 15-in lasagna pan crumble raw ground beef in an even layer.
Layer chopped onion over beef. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
Spread vegetables over mixture.
Spread the soups over the mixture with a rubber spatula.
Layer on Tater Tots.
Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.