While working on a television show, I wound up in a popular restaurant in Brainerd, Minnesota, for lunch. One of the featured dishes highlighted on the menu was the “tater tot hot dish,” apparently the state casserole. Four out of five of us, the locals, ordered the hot dish. I was the odd man out.
Fortunately, I managed to sneak a bit or two from the others. This is weighty, comfortable food that makes you fall asleep on the couch at halftime.
In the spirit of the Tater Tot Hot Dish, here’s my updated version, made without the aid of canned creamed soup or tater tots.
Potato Hot Dish
- ½ pound venison or pork Italian sausage (if using venison sausage, add 1 tbsp olive oil)
- 1 pound ground venison
- 1 cup onions
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 to 2 inch lengths
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- 2 cups potatoes, peeled and shredded
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ cups jack cheese, shredded
"Real" Cream of Mushroom Soup
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup green onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp dry sherry
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, green onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture while stirring. Continue to stir for 3 to 5 minutes more to thicken and cook flour taste out. Add chicken stock, a little at a time while stirring. Stir in milk and sherry. Heat until almost boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown sausage and venison in a large skillet over medium heat. While cooking, break up sausage, and mix well with venison. Add onions and carrots. Cook for 4 minutes. Stir in green beans and corn, and cook for 1 minute.
- Transfer contents of skillet into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour cream of mushroom soup over. In a bowl, season shredded potatoes with salt and pepper, and toss with breadcrumbs and cheese. Spread potato and cheese mixture over top.
- Place in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until cheese and potatoes are lightly browned. Allow to cool and set up for a few minutes before serving.