Sometimes I just want to tuck myself into bed with a big, cheesy plate of whatever, only reappearing in polite society on trips to the grocery store for marshmallows and booze. The noncommittal early days of winter are definitely that kind of time. Luckily for me and my bear-like tendencies, the Wisconsin Cheese Board dropped off a ton of cheese samples at work and I’ve been slowly working my way through a wedge of Marieke whole-grain mustard gouda this past week. Mmmhmm.
Last weekend, I threw a shard of my pride out the window and decided to party, Lutheran-style, by making a tater tot hotdish! My earlier foray into hotdishery amounted to a vague kind of thing that wasn’t quite the real deal. I mean, we used cream of mushroom soup, which, given the low standards of Minnesotan cuisine, qualified it as a genuine article. But I wanted to go for something iconic this time.
Instead of using cream of mushroom soup (because I am a stuck-up bitch), I whipped together a Mornay sauce with the aforementioned gouda and some Parmesan cheese. It was great, because then I didn’t have to melt cheese on top of the tater tots, which would have made them less crispy than I wanted them to be. I also went a little farther with the food snobbery and used duck fat as the base for the sauce instead of butter. Honk honk.
Tater Tot Hotdish
Serves 1 big fat fatty or 10 people
- 1 bag of tater tots
- 1-3 lbs. of diced assorted root vegetables (i.e. parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions…)
- 1 lb. of mushrooms, sliced
- Random herbs (thyme works great, as well as marjoram and rosemary)
- 2 T Duck fat or butter
- 2 T flour
- 1 pint of cream/milk/half and half
- Grated cheese of some kind
- Salt & pepper
- Cayenne pepper
Brown the root vegetables in a heavy-bottomed pan or pot. Once they’re toasty, add the mushrooms and herbs. Put aside.
Make the Mornay sauce by starting a roux with the fat and flour. Scald the dairy in another pan. Once the roux stops tasting like raw flour, stir in the cream or whatever and reduce. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and cheese to taste.
Spread the cooked vegetables onto a baking dish and pour the sauce over them. Then layer the tater tots on top and throw it all into a 375-degree oven. Once the tots crisp up, you’re done! Easy peasy.