Hit all your comfort cravings with this Texas Tater Tot Casserole.
Y’all know I follow the 80/20 rule, right? The one where we try to eat nutrient-dense foods, lots of veggies, et cetera, 80 percent of the time, and splurge 20 percent? Well, my friends, this falls squarely on the 20 percent side.
Tater tot casserole (or hotdish if you’re from Minnesota) is one of those comfort-food casseroles those of us who hail from the Midwest are pretty familiar with. We had it a lot as a kid and to tell the truth, I was never a fan. This is mainly due to the fact that the traditional recipe is made with cream of mushroom soup, and I was a staunch opponent of all things mushroom. Cream of mushroom soup has teeny-tiny pieces of mushroom in it, and yep, I was such a brat that I would pick out all the pieces and set them aside on my plate, forever annoying my parents.
Still, the thought of the dish — a cheesy, saucy dish topped with crispy potatoes — brings forth lots of feelings about growing up in Wisconsin, even if I didn’t eat it back then. And that made me want to re-create the dish to fit my now home, the place we’ve lived for more than 10 years.
To make this tater tot casserole truly Texas-style, of course you have to start with brisket. Pick up some extra at your BBQ pit stop and save it for this recipe. Be sure to get a good mix of lean and fatty, as well as some bits that have a good char on them.
Instead of cream of anything soup, we’re mixing up a thinner queso. Yep, that good old mix of melted cheese and Ro-Tel you’ve probably been seeing on TV for halftime snacking. Instead of using American cheese product, first you make a roux and add in milk. For the cheese I used a mix of Monterey Jack and Cheddar, and then the diced tomatoes with jalapeños. (You can save some to eat with chips, I don’t mind.)
To be completely honest we don’t normally have tater tots in the house, but every once in a while I just get a craving. Thanks to this dish I can get all of my cravings taken care of at once, and with not too much work.
This Texas Tater Tot Casserole is part of this month’s Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Memory Lane and is hosted by Lana Stuart, who blogs at Never Enough Thyme. For our Memory Lane dinner, we all created recipes based on comfort foods that evoke feelings of nostalgia and warmth.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
Memory Lane Comfort Food
- Cheesy Spinach Dip from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Welsh Rarebit Crostini from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Stuffed Cabbage from Mother Would Know
- Chole Aloo (Chickpas & Potatoes) from Spice Roots
- Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie (Gluten Free) from The Heritage Cook
- Chicken and Rice Casserole from Miss in the Kitchen
- Texas Tater Tot Casserole from Stetted
- Chings, Junior Style (Copycat Recipe) from Pastry Chef Online
- Chicken Cordon Bleu All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Chicken Nilaga-Boiled Chicken Stew from Asian in America
- German Chocolate Cake with Rum Glaze and Buttercream from Creative Culinary
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Never Enough Thyme
Note that while this recipe calls for the whole bag of tater tots, the size and shape of your pan will determine how many you use. If you use an enameled cast iron skillet like the one pictured, you will have some tots left over.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or mixture of cheeses, divided (about 10 ounces total)
- 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel style tomatoes (tomatoes with chiles)
- 2 cups chopped cooked brisket
- 1 32-ounce bag tater tots
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Sour cream, to serve
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a casserole dish or enameled cast iron skillet.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook, whisking, until golden brown.
- Whisk in milk, scraping up roux and incorporating. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat. Whisk in 2 cups of cheese until completely melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in tomatoes.
- Scatter brisket on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Arrange tots on top of the sauce; some might sink down a little.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from oven, scatter remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Return to oven for 10 minutes.
- When done, remove from oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to thicken and the dish to cool slightly. Scatter green onions on top and serve with sour cream, if desired.