Tator-Tot Hotdish: A True Minnesota Tradition

Tator-Tot Casserole is a true Minnesota tradition! {Brittany's Pantry}There are many things that define a region or state.  With Colorado, its the Rockies.  Maine makes me think of lobsters.  The west coast brings to mind visions of Hollywood.  Iowa?  Well…nothing comes to mind when I think of Iowa.  *smile*  And while people always ask me if Minnesota really IS the land of 10,000 lakes (as I assure them it is, more than 12,000 actually), I am glad that its Minnesota’s landscape-and our weather-that most people recognize.

But there is a little known culinary masterpiece that I have taken from my youth and added to my regular line-up of tried and true dishes.  A true Minnesota tradition that I have made for sailors in Hawaii and San Diego, college students in Wisconsin, and now, my own family in the corn fields of Illinois.  A favorite among the people, I am talking about Tator-Tot Hotdish.  Mmmm, the best use of canned soup and a pound of ground beef north of the Rio Grande.  I made it for dinner last night and the second I opened the oven door, I was a kid again.  I don’t think my Mom ever had a recipe for it, she just kinda, threw it together.  And I don’t know if she made it when she was little, as I am having a hard time picturing my Grandmother making this dish on the farm, but who knows!  Now to those of you who are reading this and nodding fondly, reminiscing about the tator-tor hotdish of your youth, let me be clear.  I do not wish to replace your recipe.  Only to offer mine to those who have not yet been enticed by its goodness.  Like most casseroles, this takes minimal skill and very little time.  I used to make it when I was in Jr. High after I got home from school.  So give it a try.  Enjoy.  And experience a bit of Minnesota tradition with every bite.

Tator-Tot Hotdish

1 lb of ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
Brown the ground beef and the onion.  Drain off fat.  Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Add:  1 can green beans, drained
1/2 small bag of frozen corn, about 1 1/2 c
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Half of a large bag of tator tots

Mix all ingredients together and pour into sprayed casserole dish.  Dump the second half of the bag of tator tots on top of the casserole and spread evenly.  Bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour, or until the center is bubbly and the top is brown.  Leftovers are awesome.

Note:  Add whatever veggies you like.  I use these because they don’t get mushy when they bake and they taste good with the potatoes.  If you like peas, add them.  Diced peppers are your favorite?  Go for it.  Its a casserole!  Just dump it all together and bake!