Today's post is dedicated to my good friend Paul Weir, a true aficionado of classic American cuisine.
If you are in your late 30's or older, I'm willing to bet you have a favorite - even if you won't admit it! I'm talking 1970's casserole dishes, that monstrosity of cuisine that came close to scarring an entire generation. Looking at some of these old recipes, with all their processed food ingredients like Velveeta "cheese" and hot dogs, it's no wonder that the following generation embraced fast food the way they did!
Still, for those of us who grew up in that period, there is almost always one favorite, that one dish that you still make even if your spouse thinks you're completely nuts. For many it's Green Bean Casserole, with condensed cream of mushroom soup and those crispy onions that come in a can. For me, it was always what in my family was called "Tater Tot Casserole".
The beauty of Tater Tot Casserole is its absolute simplicity. There are 4 ingredients. A 12 year old can make this casserole and, as I can vouch, has on many an occasion! It's hamburger and tater tots and there is not a kid anywhere that will not think this is the most incredible thing they've ever had! Which is why this recipe has stuck with me for all these years and is still one of my most favoritest comfort foods!
Making Tater Tot Casserole is easy. Simply take:
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
and press it into the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish so that the raw hamburger completely covers the bottom. Then spread over the top of the beef:
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Over the top of this pour:
1 can French onion soup
Working in rows, arrange:
1 32oz package tater tots
over the top of the onion soup. You may wish to leave a 1/2" space around the top between the dish and the tots, as the burger will shrink a bit when it cooks. Sprinkle the tots with salt and pepper. Bake the casserole at 425° for 40-45 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Serves 4-6.
As you can see, this recipe is painfully easy. One of the best things too is that, because this recipe is so simple with minimal ingredients, you can style it to your own taste! Try adding mushrooms, peppers, garlic, bacon, and/or cheese to the recipe. Flavor it with herbs, spice it up with chili powder or curry. Or keep the kids happy and just leave it plain. Anyway you go, this casserole has a good chance of ending up on your "favorites" list and, if you're like me, will be one of your guilty pleasures for years to come!