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Tater tot casseroles are simple but filling casseroles that combine relatively inexpensive ingredients to produce a dish that easily serves as an entrée for a meal. Like many casseroles, the tater tot casserole is built around one central ingredient, but can include a variety of other ingredients that help add texture and flavor to the final presentation. Most recipes for a tater tot casserole can be assembled and baked in less than an hour, making the casserole an attractive option when there is only a short time to prepare for the meal.
At the heart of the tater tot casserole is the tater tot. Tater tots are shredded potatoes that are formed into a round or a cylindrical shape and deep fried to create a crispy exterior. These tasty bite sized treats are sometimes served instead of French Fries or onion rings at fast food restaurants. They are also frozen and sold in large packages at local supermarkets.
To create a basic tater tot casserole, all that is required is a bag of frozen tater tots, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and a can of French-fried onions. The tater tots are layered in the bottom of a baking dish. The soup, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese is combined and then poured over the tater tots. Just before placing the casserole into the oven, the French-fried onions are added to the top of the mixture.
It is possible to add other ingredients to the basic tater tot casserole. For example, cooked ground beef, ground sausage, or even shredded chicken can be used to create another layer in the casserole. The cooked meat is added as a layer on top of the tater tots, followed by the soup mixture. If French-fried onions are not available, some recipes call for using potato chip crumbs, corn chips and even a layer of chopped green onions as the topping for the casserole. For people who wish to avoid the use of meat but still have some of the texture provided by ground beef or sausage that has been browned and crumbled, it is possible to use textured vegetable protein crumbles on top of the tater tots.
Most recipes for the tater tot casserole call for the dish to be cooked for anywhere between forty-five minutes and an hour. During this time, it is relatively easy to prepare a salad or a couple of vegetables to go along with the casserole. The end result is tasty and filling meal that gives the appearance of much more preparation time than was actually necessary.
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