I can remember the gentle aromas of fine cuisines—like my mother’s shrimp scampi with a hint of tang from the lemon juice—guiding me through the halls and toward the kitchen like a wisp of the wild. I can imagine the flush of aromas from restaurant kitchens each time the solid-wood double doors make their iconic swing—back and forth, back and forth. Each swing of those mahogany doors, a snapshot of the next entrée or appetizer, a new flush of the senses. All these scents swirl in memory and fantasy, some delicate and others robust to the senses, almost intoxicating. All such dishes linked to a memory of fine flavors and fine dining with the whole family. The scents and flavors of dishes cooked and presented in the best of fashions. However, sometimes, “in the best of fashions,” can simply be a man, his tots, and an oven. Along with fine-dining delights, I remember the smells of not-so-complicated dishes playing cat and mouse with my urges to eat (EVERYTHING) whilst drunk on mine or my friends’ couch. These not-so-complicated dishes can be any number of things, but I’ll talk about one of my favorites, tater tots and one of the best ways to enjoy tater tots. Sometimes that’s all you need.
In my younger years, I’ve spent a few drunken nights stretched across the couch, sprawling my hands across the coffee table for the bowl of tater tots, my aim never being quite on par while under the influence—hands first smacking the remote, a couple gas station receipts, a half-eaten bag of chips, and almost the ash tray (no Bueno). At that point, you’re in a sort of “nom nom” state, casually named after the sound of the intoxicated scarfing down of handful after handful of those delicious tots.
My roots run deep with drunken tater tots and those roots have since evolved. Throughout the years, I have experimented with many different combinations with my tater tots including: melted cheese, ketchup or barbecue sauce, chili, and even some unmentionables, but I can promise you none compare to tater tot casserole. Tater tot casserole tops all in the ventures of tater tot creations. The first time I tried this wonderful creation it was like Einstein has explained relativity to me, I was dumbfounded. I was sitting at the dinner table in my dad’s home, and the neurons in my brain were popping like popcorn, because my taste buds just couldn’t comprehend the blend of flavors. It is quite possibly the best way to enjoy tater tots. The ingredients are like, “Man, is this is unhealthy, but damn is it good.” I’d thought about eating this dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but then I thought about the crane they’d need to get me out of the house and I thought not. If you like your drunken tots, then I suggest you make this before the day-drinking party begins and feed it to your friends.
1 small onion 3 lbs. tater tots
1 can cream of chicken French’s Fried Onions
1 pint sour cream Shredded Cheese (chef’s choice)
The first thing you’ll want to do is preheat the oven to 350⁰ Fahrenheit. Next, chop that onion like you’re the king or queen of Fruit Ninja. Set that aside for a moment. Then, combine the sour cream, cream of chicken, and chopped onion in a large bowl.
Next add your choice of cheese. I prefer a 4-cheese blend with some cheddars in there. You can either add the shredded cheese in with your gooey gloppy, blob of a delicious mess in the bowl, or you can save it for later and top your casserole with the cheese. Personally, I like to toss it in with the mixture and then add a little more to the top for that little bit of glory.
Take a casserole dish and layer your tater tots on the bottom of it. Take your glob of soon-to-be deliciousness and pour it over the tater tots, spreading it with a rubber spatula, or whatever tool your post Cro-magnon man-sized brain devises. Then, top off the blend with some of that scrumdiliumptious shredded cheese. Don’t cut the cheese; those smells don’t mix.
Place the dish in the oven on the middle rack and bake for around 45 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. In the last 5 minutes of baking, sprinkle some French’s Fried Onions on top. Remove from oven and let cool. I recommend mixing everything before drinking and then heat and serve.