Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tater Tot Hotdish

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If you are from the northern midwest, specifically Minnesota, you have heard of a little thing called hotdish. It runs deep in our Lutheran-scandinavian veins, right along with lefse (yum!), and lutefisk (yuck).

And yes, I am talking hotdish. NOT casserole. Casserole is the pyrex, or Blue Cornflower corningware you put your hotdish in.

Sidenote: Yes, the blue cornflower design is a big deal in these here parts. I'm pretty sure every woman born in (or has a mother that was born in) Minnesota has at least one piece of corningware with the fantastically stylish blue cornflower design on it in her possession. I have sniped several from my mom's collection, but the quantity you see today was for a much larger crowd, so I made it in the largest roasting pan I could find.

Hot dish is something every Minnesota kids grows up eating. It is the ultimate church supper, pot luck, block party dish. And while we all grew up eating it, everyone has their own version of it. Hot dish is definetly the state dish, but there is no right recipe for it. That's the beauty of Minnesota, we embrace individuality. To each her own.

But, most have a few ingredients in common: some sort of protein, usually canned tuna, shredded chicken, or ground beef, Cream of something soup (cream of mushroom is typical, and I later found is referred to as the "Lutheran Binder"), usually a vegetable (canned or frozen), and starch (sometimes multiple) including but not limited to tater tots, pasta, or potato chips. Some people think rice is an acceptable starch, but I firmly disagree.

"Baked rice does not a hot dish make." I think my mother said that... or yoda... or yoda dressed as my mother... my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, scandinavian mother... or it was a dream.

Does my mother have a recipe for hotdish? Yes. Is it the perfect example of the "typical" hotdish? Yes. Do all of her children now make it in their own homes? Yes.

Is my mother blonde-haired, and blue-eyed? No. Is she in the slightest bit scandanavian? Definetly, not. Does she know a thing about hot dish, other than this recipe that she recieved from a coworker almost 30 years ago? No.

Is this recipe delicious? Absolutely.

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My Jamaican Momma's Minnesota Hotdish

2 lbs ground beef
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 lb bag frozen peas
1 can milk
2 lb bag of frozen tater tots
3 tsps garlic powder
3 tsps paprika, divided
salt and pepper

-Preheat oven to 375*
- Heat a deep-sided skillet on high, and brown ground beef, drain fat
- Remove from heat, and stir in both cans of soup.
- Fill on of the empty soup cans with milk, and add to pan
- Stir in peas, a couple handfuls of tater tots, salt and pepper (remember-unless you buy low sodium soup the mixture may not need any salt), garlic powder, and 2 tsps paprika, taste mixture, adjust seasonings
- Pour mixture into 13"X9" casserole dish, and even out
- Arrange remaining tater tots on meat mixture in a pretty pattern
- Bake in oven from approximately 1 hour, until the filling is bubbly, and tots are browned
- Enjoy!

It really is a complete meal in one dish, and the only necessary accompaniment is ketchup. And for dessert? Bars. But that may be another post for another time.

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