Be careful when you send your husband to pick up something at the grocery store. You might be surprised at what he brings home. The other day I asked my husband to pick up a bag of tater tots for dinner. I thought he would go to the local grocery store but his brilliant idea was to go to Sam’s Club. He brought home tater tots all right – an 8 pound bag of them! What the heck was I going to do with all those tater tots? We’ve been systematically using them over time, but we were starting to get tired of them as simply a side. So I thought I’d try making a tater tot casserole.
This particular recipe is very easy and guaranteed to be a family favorite. If you have kids, I’m sure they will enjoy this. I mean ground beef, cheese and tater tots – what’s not to like? So let’s talk beefy tater tot casserole…
Lesson Learned 1 – This recipe serves 4 people: But don’t despair. You can easily change the ingredients for larger crowds – just double or triple the amounts depending upon what you need.
Lesson Learned 2 – Make sure you put the dish under the broiler for the last few minutes to get the tater tots crispy: The taters tots are cooking on top of bubbly beef and melted cheese so they will be slightly soggy at the end. Simply put the broiler on and keep the dish under the broiler for a few minutes and you’ll get your desired crispiness for the tater tots.
Lesson Learned 3 – Feel free to experiment with this recipe: Add ingredients to the ground beef that you and your family like. If you don’t like mushrooms, don’t use them. If you like sweet peppers, dice them up and use them. If you’re not a big fan of spicy don’t use the hot sauce. But if you want some real tang add some crushed red pepper to the beef. If you prefer pearl onions, add them. You can use cheddar cheese instead of muenster cheese (I find cheddar cheese to be somewhat greasy) or any melting cheese you prefer. The beauty is this recipe can be very versatile to include anything you enjoy.
The process for this recipe is pretty straightforward and I know it will be a family favorite. Try it and let me know what you think…
Beefy Tater Tot Casserole...
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 93% lean
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 heaping tsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup beef broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Muenster cheese slices – 4-6 depending on the dish you use
1 small bag of tater tots – you may have some leftover
2 dashes hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375.
Over medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Remove the onions and add the mushrooms. If you need more oil add it. Brown the mushrooms and remove them from the skillet.
Add the ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up the beef into crumbles while cooking it. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, hot sauce, beef broth and salt and pepper. Cook until combined. Fold in the onions and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper as needed.
Place the meat mixture into a 1 1/2 – 2 quart casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Cover the meat with the cheese slices. Take the tater tots out of the freezer and cover the top of the casserole with tater tots.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Once nice and bubbly, turn on the broiler and place the dish under the broiler for approximately 3-5 minutes to crisp up the tater tots.
Serve and enjoy!