Thursday, December 06, 2007

Guest Post: Potato(e) preparer pontificates politely

I am certainly glad that it is called tater tot hot dish and not potato(e) hot dish. Ever since that Dan Quayl(e) incident all those years ago I can't remember how to spell potato(e). So I just put the e in parentheses and hope everyone remembers the historic event and then laughs at my joke, even though it is not a joke, it is me trying to cover up my lack of knowledge of potato(e) spelling, all thanks to the damn media making a federal case about the Vice President not knowing how to spell potato(e). I mean it isn't like he invented the internets or shot someone in the face or something.


Here is how I made this last batch of my hot dish. I make it different every time, not only because time and space have changed and new cosmic rays are striking the foodstuff that have been traveling through the void for millions of years (the rays, not the foodstuffs), but because I use whatever is taking up space in the fridge and freezer.

Prior to the first thing you do is garlic smashing. Alton Brown said that if you smash and cut up the garlic cloves very first it will release its oils and juices allowing the secret powers of garlic to mingle and transmutate into the life giving nectar that it is. Supposedly if you always do your garlic crushing/cutting/smashing very first and then let it sit for 15 minutes the chemical reactions will take place. You will be able to live forever if you eat exactly the right amount of this, combined with the other ingredients.

For tater tot hot dish, I just roughly chop about 3 cloves. Then put them off to the side and move on to the real first step.

First some ground meat. A pound will do. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, whatever.
I used beef this time. It was 1.99 a pound cuz it was about to expire. It was still good though, so don't worry. Brown the meat in some canola oil, which has those good fats in it that will also make you live forever. I did not use onions this time, in consideration of bladder fortitude issues. Normally though, I would start with onions in the canola oil, once they were carmelized I would add the meat, then salt and pepper to taste, (once again, no pepper on this batch cuz of the delicate UT) then sprinkle in oregano and thyme, or basil, or whatever sounds good. I usually limit myself to two or three complimentary herbs so as not to make the flavor ugly. Like mixing a ton of colors and getting an ugly brown/gray, you know? Then add mushrooms if you want, and cook them too. Sometimes I put alcohol in, just whatever I happen to be drinking-a word of caution though, don't add to much alcohol to the food, you might be thirsty later.

Once the meat is cooked, get out a casserole dish, 9 by 13'ish, then shake out a can of cream of mushroom soup. It will make that suction sound but if you shake hard enough it will all come out in a can shaped pile of mushroom creaminess. It is my favorite part of making this meal. Add not quite an equal amount of milk. Cow's milk is preferable, I haven't tried it with any other kind, but I suppose anything would work.

Then get out your frozen vegetables, I like peas, corn, broccoli, or the vegetable medley works, whatever you like. One really good thing (my favorite) is pickled artichoke hearts. Though we had none for this batch. The veggies need to be no larger than a tater tot. Hopefully you will have some to reference for purposes of approximation.

Mix the meat, vegetable and garlic all into the cream of mushroom soup/milk. If you like sour cream you could add some now too.

Smooth it in to an even sea of meat, veggie, and creamy goodness. NEATLY arrange the tater tots on top. It is critical that everything is symmetrical otherwise you could hurt nature.

Exclaim "ala peanut-butter sandwiches!"*

Cover the casserole with tin foil and put in the oven you should have preheated to 400 degrees. If only I had told you earlier.

I usually cook for an hour then see if it is bubbling, take the foil off and put back in for 10-15 minutes so the tater tots get crispy.

Let stand a few minutes when done, serve.

Some people like ranch, some like Tabasco, try things out.

There. I think I have just overcomplicated a very simple, delicious hot dish. What I lack in clarity and conciseness I make up for in bamboozlement and befuddleation.

Somewhere I read a quote "A flood of words rarely contains a drop of reason." Hopefully that does not apply here.


The main thing is: use a can of cream of something soup, some filler ingredients: meat or meat substitutes and vegetables or vegetable substitutes, and top with well placed tater tots, it will be good.

*If you tried using spices appropriate to Cajun cooking, replace "ala peanut-butter sandwiches" with "BAM!"

Also, the earlier post eroniously stated that I, Brett, purchased 4 GALLONS of ice cream. I love ice cream, but that would be ridiculous to try and fit in the freezer. We could keep it outside, as it is 15F out right now, but squirrels would probably cart off with it. I bought 4 quarts of ice cream. And only cuz it was buy 3, get one free. I only wanted two, but that is how they get you. Get the third one they say, then you can get the fourth free. Commence with the holiday pounds. Alas, I end with wise words Homer Simpson once said while loosening his belt.

"So long toes, see you in the spring"


claire said...


First of all - hysterical.

Second? I have had the same problem with potato(e)s since Dan Quayle. I'm glad i'm not the only one.

Third - That sounds absolutely wonderful.... and so easy, i might even be able to do it. If only i was not on the horrible WeightWatchers.

Thanks, Brett!

Oh, also - Isn't it: "Ala peanut butter and *jelly* sandwiches!"? I may be mistaken.

Flibberty said...

I love this man, and luckily, I get to marry him!

Jess said...

Oh my god, I see now why the two of you are such a good match! Your senses of humor are so compatible. If you have kids, they are going to spend their childhoods rolling on the floor laughing.

JMC said...

claire - I think it's just peanut butter.

flibberty - I think Brett needs a blog, too. He's very entertaining. I will so try his recipe at some point. This is the same guy with the prime numbers who says "thusly" right? AND he cooks. Marry that boy quick!

Tessie said...

Holy shit, this is by far my favorite post today and I am WELL INTO the Google Reader. It makes me so happy.

PICKED ARTICHOKES. This is genius. Why have I not thought of this?

I like to line up the tator tots too but it always makes me mad how you don't QUITE use the whole bag.


Flibberty said...

He has his own blog, but he never writes on it because he has to go to school and study and stuff, but I suggest you all urge him to do it, for he is most hysterical and witty and I love it when he does write. (it's on my side bar thingy too)

Artemisia said...

Brett - you are both hysterical and considerate (no onions, pepper).

Also, I can see why you and Flibberty like each other so darn much.

This made my day. No, really. It did!

Pickles & Dimes said...

Oh my god - this was hilarious!

My favorite part was this: "Cover the casserole with tin foil and put in the oven you should have preheated to 400 degrees. If only I had told you earlier."

Completely awesome.

amber said...

Bamboozlement. I love made up words. Hehe. Anyway, at least you're trying hot dishes. I usually feel pretty good about myself when I try something other than a microwavable dinner.

Cheri said...

Wow, this sounds deeeelish (when reading that, imagine Rachael Ray). Thanks for the recipe, I'm going to make this soon.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've been recommended by Blacksheeped on over to your blog so I've been perusing your archives (as cut down as they may be, good for you starting anew with figuring out who you want to be)

As soon as I read "Exclaim "ala peanut-butter sandwiches!"*" I knew that you should be immediately added to my Google Reader.