You know you’re in Minnesota, or the Dakotas, when you make a tater tot hotdish. This is a classic potluck casserole with endless variations. My version is a venison hotdish with wild mushrooms, but I’ll give you options for an easier, store-bought hotdish, too.
I lived in Minnesota years ago, and have recently moved back, so I am immersing myself in All Things Hotdish. I can tell you, there are as many variations as there are cooks named Ole or Lena. But the general consensus is that tater tot hotdish is a universal favorite.
It touches all the bases: Meaty, fatty, creamy, cheesy, crunchy, starchy… and if you add vegetables, well there you go. The only thing a tater tot hotdish lacks is acidity, and for that you can add a splash of vinegar, hot sauce, or, as one of my North Dakota friends prefers, ketchup.
OK, I can hear you: Hank, how on God’s Green Earth can you stoop to making a tater tot hotdish? It’s true I am better known for more gourmet dishes like duck a’lorange or something off the wall, like Sierra Spring. But I have a comfort food side to me, too.
Still, I gotta be me. So this is a venison hotdish. Yes, you can use any ground meat: beef, pork, a mixture, ground goose, you name it.
Also, I loathe canned cream of mushroom soup. Sure, you can substitute my homemade cream of mushroom soup with one or even two cans of the gloppy stuff, but I make it from scratch with wild mushrooms and cream. I prefer using birch boletes and morels, but most mushrooms will work.
The presence of vegetables in a tater tot hotdish is, well, hotly debated. I like frozen peas, but frozen green beans are also very common, as is the “medley” of peas, carrots and corn you see in freezer sections everywhere. You do you.
Making Tater Tot Hotdish
Making a venison tater tot hotdish is super simple:
- Cook the meat with onions, garlic and some herbs, maybe celery and a few mushrooms if you want to go crazy.
- Simmer dried mushrooms a minute or two to rehydrate them. Save the water and roughly chop the shrooms. Puree them with a little soaking water with cream and salt and you’re good. Stir into the meat mixture.
- Top with as much or as little shredded cheese — I used colby jack — as you want, then dot with the tots. Bake. Eat.
As for placement, I prefer my tots in a tater tot hotdish to be on top, so they get crispy. I have seen some versions placing the tots at the bottom, or even the middle. But I don’t like soggy tots, do you?
You’ll notice fresh parsley on top. Again, I gotta be me. I like fresh herbs, but if they scare you, skip them.
Storing and Serving
Generally speaking, you serve a venison hotdish as part of a potluck, so there will be lots of other dishes around. But if you are serving it as a solo main course, a simple salad would be enough. After all, there’s meat, vegetables and starch in the one casserole dish.
Once made, a hotdish will keep a week in the fridge.
You also can freeze a tater tot hotdish easily, either before or after baking. I prefer after, so you just heat and eat later. Easiest method is to bake the hotdish, then cool, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze. This works for a few days. Add a layer of foil over the plastic wrap for longer freezing.
Or you could dish out servings and freeze in lidded, plastic containers.
If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.
Brown the ground venison in a large pan; use a little oil if the grind has no extra fat. After it has mostly browned, add the celery and chopped onions and keep cooking until the meat is nicely browned and the onions are soft, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the dried mushrooms. Turn off the heat and let them soak.
Add the chopped garlic and some salt to the pan with the meat and onions. Cook this over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring well.
Fish out the mushrooms, squeeze them to remove excess moisture and chop roughly. If the soaking water is full of debris, strain it. If not, pour about 1/3 into the pan with the meat and onions. Bring this to a boil.
Add half the marjoram and mustard to the meat mixture and boil this down until it’s mostly dry.
While this is happening, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the mushrooms, another 1/3 of the soaking water, the other half of the marjoram, a pinch of salt and black pepper, and the cream into a blender and puree. If it’s too thick, add a little more soaking water. Taste it and add more salt if need be. Pour this into the pan with the meat, add the peas and stir well.
Pour all this into a casserole dish; a typical 9×13″ works well. Spread it evenly. Add a layer of grated cheese over everything, as thick as you want. Then arrange tater tots to cover it all, pressing in a little. Bake for 45 minutes uncovered.
Take it out of the oven, let it cool a bit before serving, ans sprinkle with parsley, if using.
If you don’t want to make your own cream of mushroom soup, simply use 1 or 2 cans of the stuff. I don’t love it, but many do.
Calories: 595kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 741mg | Potassium: 857mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 835IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 5mg
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Source link: https://honest-food.net/tater-tot-hotdish-venison/ by Hank Shaw at honest-food.net