Hotdish or casserole, casserole or hotdish, (we can debate which is called what and add in goulash later) I've never baked tater tot anything (besides the tots themselves) in the 3 years I've lived in my house! I know, I am ashamed and should go hide in the laundry room. I aimed to reconcile that tonight. However, being that I am me, I couldn't make 'plain' or 'mom's' tater tot hotdish, I had to make up my own. So, I started with the recipe for your basic tot-dish, and made it...esencially completely different. I was inspired by queso dip, and an italian/pepper dish trev and I make, and mac and cheese. I made up this recipe.
Italian Sausage Tater Tot Hotdish
1 lb spicey (hot) italian sausage (if you don't like really spicey food, use the mild - good flavor without the kick)
1 red pepper (I had frozen leftovers, so I honestly don't know how much I had...maybe a cup? - Use as much as you like)
3/4 cup salsa (I used a little 7 oz can out of the Mexican aisle at Cub, but you could use any)
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, slightly packed
pinch onion powder
pinch minced garlic
Brown sausage and drain, return to pan. Add peppers, salsa and pinch onion powder stir til heated through, and place in baking dish (I am using round Pirex casserole pan). Melt butter, add garlic, make roux with flour. Add milk, bring to boil wisking every once and again. Once boiling, whisk constantly for about 1 min, thickening and then add shredded cheese -continue to whisk constantly. Add cheese sause to baking pan w/ sausage. Stir together. Top with tater tots. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and tots are browned. Cool 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Would I make this again? Most definately! I think I have invented a winner! I may tweak some things, try new veg, different types of salsa, etc....but it went over well for both of us! Yum!