Tater Tot Casserole
By Beverly Hicks Burch
Do you remember the very first time you tasted a little culinary gem called a tater tot? If you are under 59 year old, it would be a fair statement to say you’ve probably tasted this little ubiquitous gem at least once in your lifetime.
For you see, after the inception in 1953 they began showing up everywhere. On school lunch plates, cafeterias, Sonic drive-ins and yes, they even began to show up around the world under different names. In Australia they’re called potato gems, potato royal or potato pom-poms. In the UK they’ve been called oven crunchies and in Canada they’ve been called Tasti Taters and Spud Puppies. Even in our own USA they can go by different names like the potato puff name in the Northeast.
Whatever you call them…they’re not your Grandma’s French Fries! They are a 100% pure American invention. The founders of Ore-Ida Corp. needed to use every bit of their product…the potato, and they found themselves with leftover slivers of potato after cutting their potatoes for the other products. They decided to make a hash brown like product that was formed and as my niece Abbi says, “Ta-da”! The tater tot was born.
I’m not sure at what age my tater tot epiphany happened. I do know that over the years it evolved. For one, my dipping sauce of choice is barbeque sauce and two I always bake mine, never fry them
But, my favorite evolution for the tater tot was a recipe I found several years ago. Sophisticated and new enough to elevate the tater tot to adult level, but yummy enough to keep the kids coming back for more. I cooked up a batch for Tall & Handsome…his first tater tot casserole experience, and his response was, “You can make this for me again.” Of course, I made a few adaptations to the recipe. My favorite is adding just a taste of my favorite “food group”…bacon!
Tater Tot Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
1 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup (can use “healthy” cream of chicken)
1 cup lite sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 32 ounce package frozen Tater Tots
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with a cooking spray.
2. Cook bacon. (I cook mine in the microwave.) Drain and blot grease from bacon. Chop bacon and set aside.
3. Combine butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream and cheese in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir constantly until cheese is melted and all ingredients are blended well. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in onion and bacon.
5. Arrange the frozen Tater Tots in the 13 x 9 pan. Pour cooked cheese/soup mixture over Tater Tots.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.