Here’s another one of those recipes that’s been a family favorite forever (to the point where whenever I ask “what do we want for dinner this week?” the answer is always Tater Tot Bake). Honestly, it doesn’t make a weekly appearance, but when I make it, it’s a hit. The original recipe called for canned cream of mushroom soup – I’ve messed around over the years to replace that with fresh mushrooms.

1 lb lean ground beef (ground turkey works well too!)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup white mushrooms (cleaned & sliced)
1 shallot (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 c beef stock (or chicken if you’re using ground turkey)
1 c milk
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Smoked paprika to taste
1/2 of a 32 ounce package of tater tots

1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or pepper jack)
6 oz. French Fried Onions

Brown meat in a cast iron skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and remove from pan.

Melt the butter then add the mushrooms & shallots. Cook until the mushrooms soften. Add the garlic (so it doesn’t burn). Add the flour to the vegetables and cook for a minute. Slowly stream the milk and stock into the pan, whisking constantly (and making sure you get any of the brown bits up off the bottom of the skillet). As the mixture starts to thicken, add the Worcestershire and smoked paprika. Keep simmering until it thickens. Add the meat back into the pan and give it a stir.

Arrange the tater tots on top of the meat. Tip: if you like the potatoes a little crispier, bake them for 400 degrees for 20 minutes while you’re getting everything else together.

Bake 15-20 minutes (if you don’t bake the tots ahead, you may have to add another 10 minutes to get them fully cooked). When the tots are cooked and the mixture is bubbly, you can top with the shredded cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes to let it melt. Same with the French Fried Onions – layer them on top of the tots (and cheese, if you added) and give it another five minutes till they’re crispy and golden brown.

Nice green salad on the side makes it a perfect dinner!

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