By Larry Dunn, December 29, 2020
Awhile back we got obsessed with tater-tot-topped hot dish recipes, in part because of their mildly odd upper Midwestern roots as potluck dinner fare, and in part because Oberlin is a tater tot mecca, thanks to The Feve, a local watering hole.
Out here on the internet, you can find plenty of tater tot hot dish recipes with a classic Midwestern quick-fix approach, using ground beef, frozen vegetables, and canned soup. But in developing our own recipe, we were much more intent on a made-from-scratch approach. So ours features fresh vegetables and a scratch-made bechamel sauce. The recipe is include in this post, and there is also a link to a downloadable PDF at the bottom.
HOT DISH: TATER TOT TOPPED SALMON POT PIE
Our own take on the tater tot hot dish phenomenon, with a make-from-scratch approach. It specifies left-over grilled salmon, but it can also be made with canned salmon (easiest to use the skinless and boneless types), any leftover fish or roast chicken, or even all vegetables. Any of the veggies can be substituted or omitted. In order to ensure the tater tots get crispy, we pre-bake them in the oven to 12 to 15 minutes.
2 medium carrots, roll-cut or in a medium dice
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 to 4 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tablespoons of butter
4 Tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
1 cup of broth (or sub another cup of milk)
dash of hot sauce
pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
8 to 12 ounces leftover grilled salmon (or canned salmon)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 to 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, or thyme)
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of tater tots (depending on shape of baking dish and desired density of tots)
If pre-cooking the tater tots, spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in an oven preheated to 450F for about 12 minutes until they start to crisp and brown. Set aside.
Prepare the vegetables and sauté in a skillet over medium heat until the carrots start to soften, with a bit of salt and pepper. Increase the heat and deglaze the pan with the white wine. Reduce the white wine almost completely and set the veggies aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until frothy. Add the flour and stir to absorb the butter and cook it a bit. Lower the heat to medium-low and start adding the 2 cups of milk, about 1/3 of it at a time. Stir frequently to avoid lumps. When the sauce is bubbling and thickening with all the milk, add the broth and stir to combine and bring back to heat. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Drop the heat to low and add in the salmon and the reserved vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the salmon, chopped herbs, and frozen peas and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour the mixture into to 9×13 in. glass baking dish or a ~3-quart ceramic casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the tater tots in an attractive manner on top of the pot pie mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tots are nice and brown and the mixture is bubbling. Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes to let it set, then serve.