My son has been disappointed recently because I have decided to boycott Taco Time. Think of it as if you created a Mexican restaurant and applied a Northwestern Scandinavian sensibility to its food. We're not talking Lutefisk tacos, but the food is just sort of boring. That's not why I'm boycotting it though. I'm boycotting it because their drive through is the slowest I've ever encountered, and despite the extra time, they have a tendency to get my order wrong. Last time, they gave me a chicken taco salad instead of a beef taco salad, and their chicken is disgusting. It tastes like it's warmed-over canned chicken and it's just terrible. I'm just done with them.
The one thing was, instead of potato chunks (like Taco Bell) or french fries (like just about everywhere else), they served tater tots (calling them "Mexi Fries"), and my older boy loved to get a kid-size quesadilla and tater tots from them. Since he could no longer have Taco Time tater tots, I thought I'd console him by trying my hand at a recipe I'd only heard of in hushed whispers, a dish that can drive a cardiologist to acts of violence... Tater Tot Casserole. It's the holy grail of fat and starch, and I was pretty sure my kid would love it.
Here are the components:
2.5 quart covered casserole dish
2 lb. bag of frozen tater tots
10 ounce can of condensed cream of potato soup
16 ounce tub of sour cream
6 oz can of french fried onions
2 cups of shredded cheese (packed)
3 bun length hotdogs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Put the oil in the casserole dish and use a paper towel to spread it around the bottom and sides of the dish.
Quarter the hotdogs lengthwise and dice into 1/4 inch bits.
In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, soup, half the cheese, half the fried onions, the salt, the pepper, the onion powder, the rosemary, and the hotdog bits.
Create a single layer of tater tots in the bottom of the casserole, laying them lengthwise, and try to fit in as many as you can. Spoon the sour cream mixture over that, creating a fairly even layer.
Cover the sour cream layer with the remaining tots and press them in gently. Cover the tots with the remaining cheese in an even layer. Cover the cheese with the remaining french fried onions in an even layer.
Cover the casserole with its lid and put it in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and let bake for another 10 or so minutes to gently brown the french fried onions on top.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve. It's best if you mash all the bits together once it's on the plate so all the flavors get distributed around. It also stands up well to reheating in the microwave.