I have a confession to make. I love Tater Tots. Yes I, a grown woman, will look for any reason to serve Tater Tots with a meal.
If you’ve read any of my recipes you know that I find ingredient lists to be more like suggestions. So feel free to change anything you’re not crazy about – I will take no offense. Also, I’m a picky eater so I use onion and garlic powder instead of the real thing.
In a medium saute pan, brown the ground beef with the garlic and onion powders until thoroughly cooked. Pour in the Worcestershire and Soy sauces, then the red pepper, sugar, pepper, and corn starch. Finally mix in the tomatoes and warm through.
Spread the beef and tomato mixture in a baking pan. If you plan on freezing this for later, line the pan with heavy duty foil first. If cooking and serving immediately I don’t recommend the foil as it can get sliced when serving and end up in your food.
Side Note: I prefer the petite diced tomatoes, especially with Miss O at our table. The smaller pieces allow for better blending of flavor.
Spread cheese over the top of the beef and tomato mixture. If you’re freezing, let it cool before adding the cheese. If not, it will start to soften and melt and may lead to embarrassing stomach gurgling noises.
Feel free to adjust the amount of cheese you use, and the type (we just happened to have a Mexican blend on hand, but the recipe calls for cheddar). 1 1/2 cups will give you some cheese in each bite, which is basically my life’s goal.
Create a single layer of Tater Tots on top of the cheese. I’m told I’m odd because I insist the tots be lined up. Maybe that’s true, but lining them up means I get the most tots possible in my dish. Seeing as I’ve already professed my love of the Tater Tot, that’s how I’m going to do it. If you choose to place your tots in a haphazard pattern, so be it. We can still be friends.
Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes at 400º, a little longer if it’s starting out cold. It will be fine at this point, but I like to switch the oven to boiler and let the Tater Tots crisp up a bit before serving. The cheese will be all melty and gooey, and the tots will be golden brown and crispy… it’s like heaven.
Again, my OCD is showing – I have to cut in between the Tater Tots.
If you have young kids, serve theirs first and let it cool before they eat. This dish tends to get very hot and can easily burn little mouths.