Cheeseburger Tot Casserole

I came across the original version for this recipe (from the nice folx at Southern Living) on line and thought that, with a few easy tweaks, it would be perfect for a Book Club lunch. I easily made it gluten-free by using 1:1 Gluten-Free flour (Tater Tots are naturally gluten-free); but…

I was a bit surprised at how bland the casserole was shaping up to be as I was making it, and so my recipe reflects my flavor enhancing additions, which were all very well received.

•1 tbsp olive oil
•1-1/2 lb ground beef (I used meatloaf mix)
•1 cup chopped sweet onion
•1 tsp steak seasoning
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp tomato paste
•2 tbsp flour (gluten-free works a treat)
•1 cup chicken stock
•1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
•1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
•2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1-1/2 tsp steak seasoning
•2 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp red chile flakes
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
•Tater tots
•Ranch dressing
Arby’s Sauce

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven to 400º and apply cooking spray to a large baking pan, approximately 11×7 inches.

Add the oil to a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the meatloaf mix, onion, one tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce, and one teaspoon of the steak seasoning.

Cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces, for ten minutes or so, until the meat is cooked through, the onion tender, and most pan liquids have been cooked off.

Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute or so.

Stir in the stock and, still stirring constantly, cook for another five minutes or so, until the mixture has reduced and thickened.

Stir in the drained tomatoes and chiles, the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings, hot sauce, and additional tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce.

Cook, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens a bit.

Turn off the heat and stir in one cup of shredded Pepper Jack cheese until the cheese has melted.

Note: not a fan of Pepper Jack? use 1/2 cup each of shredded Jack and Cheddar cheese.

Transfer the meat and cheese mixture to your prepared baking dish, then top with a single layer of tots.

Bake, uncovered for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and bubbly, and the tots are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and scatter another cup or so of shredded cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.

Return to the oven for another five minutes or so, until the cheese has nicely melted.

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.

I drizzled mine with ranch dressing and Arby’s Sauce before serving with a baby arugula and romaine salad with Hilltop Blue Cheese Dressing.

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