Too Easy Hotdish

Recipe

Since we are getting closer to Winter and the Holidays, I think it was fitting to post a recipe for hot comfort food.  I got this from Joanne Fluke’s novel called, Apple Turnover Murder.  What better meal to eat than something that is fast and easy to prepare!

Too Easy Hotdish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

You will need:
-1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground meat (you can use hamburgers, pork, chicken, turkey, lean sausage, or venison—any ground meat will do—or you can use any leftover meat cut up in bite-size pieces)
-2 cans (12-ounce) condensed cream of almost anything soup (author usually uses cream of celery, or mushroom, or chicken, or any combination—even asparagus might be good)
-1-pound package frozen potato nuggets (like Tater Tots)
-1 cup shredded cheese (author uses cheddar, but other cheeses are also good)

Hannah’s 1st Note: You can put in a thin layer of chopped onions, or a thin layer of vegetables cut in small pieces.  Just don’t add too many things or the potatoes and cheese on top will burn before the inside gets done.

Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray.

Put the ground meat in the bottom of the pan, spreading it out as evenly as you can.  Press it down with your impeccably clean hands, or use the back of a metal spatula.  (The fat does not drain out of this hotdish and that’s why you should use lean ground meat.)

Spoon the 2 cans of cream-of-whatever soup on top of the meat.  Using a rubber spatula, spread the condensed soup over the meat as evenly as possible.

Put the frozen potato nuggets on top of the soup in a single layer.  (author has substituted hash browns or potatoes O’Brien when she didn’t have Tater Tots in her freezer.)  Spread them out as evenly as you can.

Sprinkle on the shredded cheese to top the potatoes.

Hannah’s 2nd Note: Mary’s recipe is so easy, it’s almost impossible to get it wrong unless you use too much cheese.  It’s a case of twice as much cheese is NOT twice as good.  Too much melted cheese may act as an insulator, just like the insulation in your attic to keep out the cold Minnesota air in the winter.  In this case, it could have the opposite effect.  The cheese , when it melts, will spread out like insulation on top of the potatoes and keep the heat of the oven away from your Too Easy Hotdish.

DO NOT COVER your hotdish with anything.  Just slip the pan in the oven at 400 degrees F. and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes on top are browned and crispy.  (If you used a glass cake pan, it may bake a little faster.)

Hannah’s 3rd Note: You may have noticed that this hotdish uses no additional seasonings.  Mary says some members of her family like to sprinkle it with Worcestershire sauce, but most people love it just as it is.

Yield: Mary says that accompanied by hot rolls and a tossed green salad, a pan of Too Easy Hotdish will serve 4 teenage boys, or 6 normal adults.  🙂

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