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Good morning folks! Welcome back.
A thought passed through my mind awhile back while I was in the middle of a two-day prep, hours long to cook recipe that I was putting together, are some of these recipes I’ve posted a little “too” elaborate? I hope not. The entire idea for Sunday Gravy is to present you with recipes, cooking concepts and tricks to help you out. I really don’t want to scare anyone away.
I thought I would really simplify things today. Yeah, that’s it. It had nothing to do with the fact that I spent an entire day last weekend attending a ballet my granddaughters were dancing in as well as attending the after party.
Saturdays are my grocery store, research and advanced prep days for most weekends. So, shit. I ran out of time and decided to make an easy as fuck, tried-and-true, right family favorite.
Here’s some advance notice, next week is going to be some simple delicious stuff too. Here’s a hint why.
Right! Back to this one.
Many of you may be asking yourselves “The fucksa hotdish?” and I would understand that inquiry. Hotdish is an upper Midwest regional food, popular in Minnesota and North Dakota so get ready for some “Fargo” references.
“Ya, we got that big statue up there!”
Hotdish is usually spotted in it’s native environments of church socials, potlucks and group gatherings where you bring an inexpensive, filling and downright tasty dish that can be served out of a single casserole dish and feed a group of people.
You know where else it can be spotted? Right after a neighbor, friend or family member dies.
Do people still do that shit? Somebody passes away and the neighbors start bringing over an everlovin’ shit ton of food? They used to.
Family story time. A looonnng time ago I had a little brother who died of a brain tumor when he was 2 years old. Forget the fucking “I’m sorrys” and “Oh that’s terribles!” Seriously I was fucking 8 years old and I’ve moved along as they say. If you want to know an exact age and reason when and why I stopped believing in God this should help narrow that down.
It was really strange but the day we came home from his funeral there was a fucking line – I’m not shitting you here – of people waiting outside our front door. Every one of them carrying food. This was back in the day when everyone brought homemade food not a goddamn bucket of fucking chicken either. We had food for fucking days leftover. I don’t remember everything that folks brought but I do remember most everything was a casserole. I still love a good casserole.
I’m pretty certain this ties in to the origin of the term “comfort food.” Goddamn do I hate that term. Ever watch “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?” Every motherfucking body they talk to calls the food they’re eating “comfort food.” This is right before they tell you that they eat at the same place every day.
Motherfucker, are you so fucked in the head that you need to be comforted every goddamn day? Maybe your fat ass should stop eating “comfort food” and take a fucking Prozac instead.
Comfort food my ass.
Sorry. I digress.
Oh yeah one more fun family funeral story!
My Auntie who passed away a couple of years ago in Texas had her funeral service at the family church. No shit, my cousin is married to one of the ministers. This was the only time I’ve been in a church in about a million fucking years for obvious reasons. The parishioners all brought homemade food. Oh my fucking lord was it goddamn delicious. Homemade fried chicken and rolls and potato salad and somebody brought homemade cream corn that I could have killed somebody for just so they could bring it to another funeral.
Made me understand the allure of church suddenly. Doesn’t mean my Hell-bound ass is going to church but I kind of got it.
Hotdish! Here’s a website that has recipes for about 30 kinds of bona fide (“He’s a suiter!” – sorry wrong movie) hotdish. Page through that shit and tell me that some of that doesn’t look delicious. Fuck yes! Hotdish is super easy and usually involves browning some ground beef, opening some cans, adding a starch and cooking until golden brown and delicious. It is served hot out of the oven in a single pan and there you have the etymology of “hotdish”.
How easy? Here are my ingredients.
That’s some hamburger, some cheese, can of cream of mushroom soup and a bag-o-tater tots!
Other popular items in hotdish include hashbrowns or mashed potatoes instead of tots, sometimes rice, particularly wild rice or pasta is used as the starch. Folks also used canned tuna for a version of hotdish.
Wait. Am I saying tuna casserole is actually a variety of hotdish? “You’re darned tootened!”
Now you understand why I’ve been droning on and on about potlucks and family deaths and all kinds of other morose shit. Because this is about the easiest thing you can possibly make that achieves ridiculously tasty results. The recipe takes about 5 minutes to put together and anyone can make it.
I just wanted to make sure you received your standard “Goddamn he’s a wordy motherfucker” amount of words that you are accustomed to from Sunday Gravy.
“This is MY deal here, Wade!”
Seriously folks. Make this. It’s easy as fuck, inexpensive and I promise you that it will be one of those dishes that you will continue to eat until you achieve a food coma.
1 pound of ground beef. If I had any foresight I would have ground my own beef like Romonobyl did.
1 can of cream of mushroom soup.
8 ounce bag of shredded cheese – I’ll get to the what kind of cheese discussion.
1 bag of Tater Tots. TOTS!
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder.
3 cloves of fresh garlic minced.
Salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it. Some people use a can of vegetables here but I prefer mine on the side.
Get out your skillet and bring it to medium high heat. Add in the hamburger. I used 85/15 hamburger.
Season with the onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper. If you have a little “essence” or Creole seasoning on hand go ahead and sprinkle some on. Give this a few stirs until the meat has just lost it’s shade of pink. Don’t fully cook the meat because it will be going in the oven.
Oh yeah, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
The meat should look like this when ready.
At this point add in your minced garlic until just fragrant. Give it a couple of stirs and remove from the pan.
I’ve mentioned this technique before when making my Mother Sauce but open up than can of cream of mushroom soup and spoon it into a bowl for just a moment. Now place that empty can in the kitchen sink, grab a lid and drain the grease from the browned meat into the empty can. When the can cools you have a proper grease disposal vessel.
Get out your trusty baking dish and give it a little lube action. You can use butter or oil here just to make clean up a little easier.
Take your browned beef and dump in the cream of mushroom soup and give that fucker a big ol’ stir to combine. It’s gonna look a little unappetizing but we will be covering this shit up by the time this is done.
Mix like so.
Now if you wanted to add in a can of vegetables, here’s where you would mix it in. I’ve had this dish with a can of corn mixed in, a can of green beans and even some peas and carrots. They were all just fine but I found they distracted from the overall dish. This shit is goddamn perfect as is so again, we will be serving the vegetables on the side.
“I’m not gonna debate you Jerry. I’m not gonna sit here and debate.”
Next thing to do is add a layer of cheese. Ma used to use all Monterrey Jack because of its meltability and I completely agree. She used to buy a wedge of Jack cheese and cut it in thick slices for this layer. All of the cheesy goodness! What I did to save on labor because God forbid we should have to grate some cheese, was to use a bag of shredded cheese. The cheese here is primarily Monterrey jack but I added some shredded cheddar on top to boost the flavor.
Cover this bastard up edge to edge with the cheese.
Choice of cheese is important here. The Jack cheese has a good melt and a nice rich texture without overpowering the dish, which is important. Everything works in harmony here. I HAVE used all cheddar before but I would advise against it due to a much higher oil content when the cheddar melts. We don’t want to deep fry the top of the casserole. Maybe some of you do but that’s another hotdish recipe.
Get out your bag of Tots and let’s layer them right on top. Keep the tots frozen until ready to layer. We are going to take our time here and layer these in rows. Like little tater tot soldiers!
Yes, it’s worth the effort. It adds to the overall appearance and it also allows the dish to cook evenly. We don’t want to just throw the tots on top all willy-nilly here!
Cover completely with the tots.
Place the casserole, uncovered in the pre-heated oven and let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown and delicious!
Look at the edges there. You get just a little crispy edge from the melted cheese. This is why we don’t want to use all cheddar cheese. You want a few tasty crunchy bits but not the entire top of the dish.
Let this pan of molten fucking lava rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Of course I didn’t wait that long and had 2nd degree burns on the roof of my goddamn mouth for a few days.
While the hotdish is cooling go ahead and prepare your vegetable of choice to serve alongside. Today I used a can of green beans, We’re keeping this fucker retro dammit!
There it is!
Blow that photo up. That’s some sexy ass shit right there. The program in the picture was from the ballet. The girls did “Beauty and the Beast.” If you’ve never attended the ballet, instead of words they use interpretive dance. It was like watching a really bad – but colorful! – acid trip. Jesus Christ I love my granddaughters and they were completely adorable but…
Oh the commitments we must keep.
To summarize, this stuff is stupid simple and stupid delicious. Everything just WORKS. It’s very harmonious the way the rich ground beef combines with the soup. The soup actually works as a binding agent, then the melted cheese covered by the tasty browned tots. Have you ever put cheese on your tots?
The fuck is wrong with you?
Easy as Hell weeknight menu or when you want to serve a delicious family meal without extra expense or labor. Everyone who has ever tried this has loved it. Have kids? Better get ready to add this into the regular mealtime rotation because they will be driving you nuts to make it again.
They will be covering you with sloppy tater tot kisses.
“Aw Norm. You’re getting Arby’s all over me!”
See? We can do the easy shit when needed. I’ll have an easy one for you next week then I will get back to the more adventurous recipes after that. I have a recipe in the works that just might very well blow your goddamn dicks off!
Much love folks!
Thanks for stopping by.