If you're from Minnesota, chances are you both know what tater tot hot dish is and have eaten it. You may also have a family recipe, which is just a little different from your best friend's family recipe. If you're not from Minnesota, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Certain Minnesotans I know (*cough*myhusband*cough*) would probably argue you should stay blissfully ignorant.
I'm not going to let that happen. First, some explanation - hot dish is just what we call a casserole up here. Go to any church basement pot luck and you are likely to find not only at least 3 different varieties of tater tot hot dish, you're also likely to find a whole bunch of other questionable-looking ground beef/potato or noodle/cream of __________ offerings. I advise you skip most of them.
This one, however, you should try. And while you're eating it, try to fit in as many "ya sures" and "you betchas" and "uff das" into the conversation as possible. A lot of us really do sound like Fargo up here (though we will deny it and be extremely offended if it's ever pointed out to us).
Tater Tot Hot Dish
Prep Time - 5 min
Cook Time - about an hour
1 1/2 lb ground beef (ground turkey works well too)
1-2 TSP olive oil
1 med. onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1 can low-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 can low-sodium cheese soup
Most of a 2 lb bag tater tots
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until they start to get soft. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown. Season with salt & pepper. When the beef is almost done, add a few cloves of garlic. Once the beef is browned, drain if necessary.
Add to the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Meanwhile, while the beef is browning, mix together the cream of mushroom soup and the cheese soup in a small bowl. Do not add any other liquid, like milk or water, even though it'll be very thick and you will be tempted to.
Pour the soup mixture over the ground beef. Spread it around a little so all the ground beef is mostly evenly-covered.
Add tater tots to the top of the pan, sort of lining them up, using the picture above as a guide for how to do it. You should use somewhere around 2/3 to 3/4 of the bag. Cover the pan with tin foil.
Bake, covered for 25 minutes.
Remove the tin foil and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes to get the tots nice and crispy.
Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.