As a proud Minnesotan, I’m a sucker for a good hot dish. Hot dish, or casserole as it’s sometimes known, is the perfect fall/winter meal but you can have it in spring and summer too. You can usually make it ahead (a la Ina) and then just throw it in the oven after work. It’s warm, it’s comforting, and it’s easy.
One of my favorite hot dishes is this tater tot/mac and cheese/bacon gem that I invented myself. Read on for the incredibly heart-healthy recipe.
- Cook a bunch of bacon and chop it into little pieces.
- Make macaroni and cheese however you like it. I don’t really use a recipe, but these are the general steps:
- Boil your favorite pasta shape. Some of the best ones for this dish are shells, mini shells, elbows, macaroni, or other small shapes that are good sauce vehicles. (NOT PENNE.)
- Start with a roux, which is basically melted butter that you whisk flour into.
- Add cheese to the roux and continue to whisk until it is all melted.
- Off the heat, add some milk. From here, you can add whatever herbs and spices you like. I like to throw in a bit of sage, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Add seasoning or more cheese if needed.
- If you aren’t feeling confident and want a recipe for good mac and cheese, explore this one but don’t use penne.
- Mix the bacon into the mac and cheese, saving a handful for later.
- Pour the mac and cheese into a 9×13 baking dish.
- Top with tater tots. A bag of Ore-Ida tots is the perfect amount to top a 9×13. I’m fairly certain they do this on purpose.
- Put grated cheese and the remaining bacon on top.
- Bake according to the instructions on the tater tots.
Tater tot hot dish is perfect as a side dish or the main course in any meal (especially a Breakfast of Champions). It’s also super customizable, so go crazy!