Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Tater Gratin with Parmesan Tots


Little Tate has entered the world to the thrill and constant joy of his parents and extended family and friends. There’s a baby shower being thrown at the moment in his honor and the dining room table sags under the weight of the hors d’oeuvres prepared for this fun occasion. It seemed to me only right that after hearing his dad call him ‘tater-tot’ that someone prepare and serve Tater Tot Hot Dish. But not just any Tater Tot Hot Dish! Feeling particularly inspired by Tate’s entrance into the world and his dad’s choice of nicknames, and always up for a challenge I decided to give it a try. The recipe below features homemade parmesan tots which, I have to say, are just ridiculous in a really fun, ridiculously tasty kind of way. Wow! Probably won’t ever buy standard tater tots again. In lieu of canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, there’s also a recipe for homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup. Again, just ridiculous. One note… clean up for this project took quite some time. Enjoy! Tate did!


The Hot Dish

Ingredients ~

  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced, pressed
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • one large bag of frozen tater tots or… Parmesan Tots (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus (cut into 1″ chunks)
  • 4 Tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 4 ounces Bleu cheese
  • 8 ounces Feta cheese
  • 1 can of Amy’s (or other high quality/organic) cream of mushroom soup (recipe for homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup follows)
  • ½ can milk

Method ~

Brown the ground beef in a large pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. When it is mostly done, add the butter, garlic, and thyme and cook until well done, and until most of the watery liquid has evaporated. There will be buttery liquid left.

To assemble the casserole:

Mix the entire can of soup with half a can of milk, set aside. Add the beef, garlic, and butter mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Spread evenly. Place the asparagus pieces, evenly spaced, on top of the beef. The sprinkle the Bleu cheese and Feta crumbles on top of the asparagus. (Note: You may not have to use all of the Feta and Bleu cheeses. Just use enough to cover. Pour the soup/milk mixture evenly over all the layers. Neatly arrange a snug layer of tater tots over all of this.

Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1.5 hours total; remove the foil for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, so the Parmesan Tots get crispy. It’s done when the liquid is bubbling and the middle is hot.

~ With thanks to Corporate Chef Michael DeFonzo, P.J. Clarke’s


mushroom soup 7The Cream of Mushroom Soup

(Use this recipe in lieu of canned Cream of Mushroom Soup for use with Tater Tot Hot Dish)

Ingredients ~

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Method ~

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until the onions release their liquid and are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook for a minute or two (mixture will be very stiff). Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the cayenne pepper and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the soup is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the Tater Tot Hotdish. Or just eat this!



Tater TotsThe Parmesan Tots

Ingredients ~

  •  3 Idaho potatoes
  • 3 cups Parmesan cheese grated, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons chives finely sliced, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 egg, whisked (you may need to use two eggs if the ingredients don’t hold together well)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Method ~

Cook potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain and cool the potatoes. Peel the potatoes and grate them on a box grater. Carefully fold in cheese, chives and egg and season with salt and pepper. Mold the potato mixture into 1-inch by ½-inch cylinders. You may need to add an additional egg to get the mixture to hold together. Coat in panko bread crumbs and deep fry. Garnish with extra Parmesan and chopped chives.

6-8 Servings

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