Since I Have Arrived

A collection of travelling tales by a mother and daughter

Travel the World with Tater Tot Casserole

January 10th, 2011

Some good old comfort food

When the winter gets long and the temperature matches the stock market, you might need to lift your snowy spirits with some specialized Fargo-Moorhead comfort food? Well, it’s not expensive; it’s easy to make; and it’s a sure hit around the world (more about that later).

This is the tale of TT. C, Tater Tot Casserole. For years I made it for Fargo North sports teams: soccer, basketball, volleyball and swimming. It was simply inhaled. Positively the first thing to go on the buffet table. What is the special allure of this dish? My husband considers it a miracle if the casserole even makes it to the table without half the Tater Tots picked off. (You Tot pickers know who you are.) Do you ever wonder how the Tots are made? Like, maybe some assembly-line folks molding them into little cylindrical, bite-size pieces. Ore-Ida Fun Facts say the Tots are made from potato shreds left over from French fry production and they entered the scene in 1954. Maybe they are Red River Valley spuds?

The mystery remains, however, as to who made the first Tater Tot Casserole. The Tots have been featured on the Simpsons and South Park, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota served 1000 servings of the hot dish at her Minnesota inaugural party in D.C.

Low and behold, a picture of me holding up Tater Tot Casserole appeared recently on my daughter’s Face book. One friend responded, ‘What’s that thing she’s holding?’ Apparently, not everyone is in the know.

Tater Tot Casserole

Merrie Sue and her famous Tater Tot Casserole

When I visited my daughters who formerly lived in Italy and the Republic of Georgia, and now in Germany and Scotland, the first thing they ask for is Tater Tot Casserole. Let me tell you, it’s not easy. Italy and Georgia are slow-food places; most everything is local and fresh. The Army base in Italy provided us with canned cream of mushroom soup. The market in Tbilisi provided us with some mystery meat that looked like ground beef, fresh green beans and potatoes. So we did our best. Neither place had Tots, however, so we punted and put potato slices on top of the casserole. No matter what the variation, it turned out great! An international delicacy.

Anyway, here’s the Midwestern basic recipe I use. Spread 1 lb. uncooked ground beef on the bottom of a casserole , add onion, salt and pepper to taste, add canned or frozen green beans, spread a can of cream of mushroom soup over the top, add a bag of Tater Tots. ‘Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (until meat is done) at 350 degrees.

I thought it might be fun to share variations on the theme of your favorite Tater Tot Comfort Casserole – maybe mom’s, dad’s, grandma’s or your own concoction. For example, I recently saw a TT.C recipe in a lakes country cookbook using venison. Maybe even a TT.C for vegetarians or a low-cal version. Send us your recipes, and let’s have some fun with our favorite comfort food. Perhaps you’ve found a global TTC in your travels. Who knows? It might become the secret training meal for Fargo Marathon Runners.

8 Responses to “Travel the World with Tater Tot Casserole”

  1. Kimberly O. says:

    My recipe calls for a pound of cooked extra lean ground beef. I mix this with a can of drained corn and a can of Campbell’s Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup. This is spread in the 9 x 13 pan. Then I put frozen tater tots on top. I typically cook this for 45 minutes at 350º. However, if my husband is working late, then I set the oven at 250º and we eat when he gets home (so this could be two hours). We like crunchy tator tots. I put ketchup on what I’ve put on my plate, my husband eats his “naked”.

    I tried a “healthier” version that called for shredded potatoes. It wasn’t the same. We ate it. But for the leftovers, I actually cooked tater tots and mixed it in. :)

  2. Tracy Briggs says:

    I love many types of food from many different countries. But gosh, sometimes nothing is better than Tator Tot Casserole….YUM

  3. Dawn Widhallm says:

    I work with your daughter in Germany and had decided that we needed comfort food for tomorrow’s lunch, so came home, started searching the net and wow! found this – I was not expecting to find your exact receipe, it is great and someday I look forward to meeting you!

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  5. Judeen says:

    I have to say, that in reading this…I giggled. Because I too have the same thing happen. With five children, tatertot casserole is asked for more than candy in my house it seems! I live up north, so especially in the cold months, we make it at least three times a month, and never have leftovers. I do add a bit more to mine, but everyone has different tastes!

    1 lb lean ground beef
    1 can corn
    1 can green beans
    1 can cream of chicken
    1 small onion finely chopped
    1 can cheese soup (or sliced cheese instead)
    Brown ground beef and add onions while cooking.
    Mix all ingredients in large bowl. (except sliced cheese)
    Add sea salt and cracked pepper to taste.
    Add Cavendars seasoning.
    Pour mixture into 9×13 baking dish.
    Top with sliced cheese if cheese soup was not used.
    Add rows of tatertots and bake at 400 degrees for 30 mins.

  6. Laurie says:

    I adore TTC! I just made a “healthy” version for my family (and future blog post) and was wondering if I could link to this post for the original version, should anyone want to go that route. Thanks

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