In partnership with Cabot
In the midwest, “hotdish” is a common potluck offering that families enjoy. Living in Colorado, we don’t have such a culinary tradition (honestly, Colorado has very few culinary traditions or styles), so we thought we’d try something different when making dinner recently. Partially inspired by the amazing ground beef we had on hand, and partially inspired by the fact that our twins could eat tater tots at every meal, we thought our version of Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole, baked on the Traeger, would result in a delicious meal. And it certainly was!
WHAT’S A HOTDISH?
When you look up “hotdish” on Google, you find a lot of recipes for this iconic regional casserole. The main ingredients are simple: meat, canned soup and toppings. Certainly there are a lot of ways to make a hotdish your own– from the type of meat used or on hand to the flavor of soup or the ingredients you select as a topping. Most traditionally, it seems that hotdishes are really tater tot casseroles, topped with frozen tater tots.
We took the most traditional route possible– using ground beef, cream of chicken soup and frozen tater tots. For an added umph to our casserole, we added a generous layer of shredded Cabot Creamery Cooperative cheddar cheese.
ADDING A TRAEGER SPIN
To add to the wood-fired flavor of the dish, we began by smoking the ground beef on the Traeger for about 20 minutes. We simply placed the entire pound of ground beef on a cookie sheet, seasoned it lightly with Garlic Junkie seasoning and placed the tray in the Traeger at 225* with the super smoke feature. Just that small amount of time affords the meat an extra layer of flavor, which really amplifies the dish.
For this recipe, we used the Traeger Timberline XL’s new induction burner to cook up the beef. The induction burner makes it possible to cook the entire thing outside on the grill– which makes cooking in the heat of the summer a breeze. We also sauteed the mirepoix on the induction burner, and could easily have cooked the beef in the same pan, at the same time, to cut down on a step.
- Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Ground Beef
- Garlic Junkie seasoning
- Cream of Chicken Soup
- Sour Cream
- Tater Tots
WHY COOKING TATER TOT CASSEROLE ON THE TRAEGER WORKS
Cooking on the Traeger is not reserved only for grilling and BBQ. As evidenced by this recipe, you can now smoke, saute and bake on the Traeger with ease. By using the new induction burner alongside the grill, the steps of cooking portions inside are eliminated and instead everything can be done on the grill. This is great, not only because it is fun and different, but also because it makes cleanup a breeze, eliminates the need to heat up the kitchen in the summer, and also is a way to impress your friends and family at dinner.
By first smoking the beef on the Traeger for 20-30 minutes before cooking it, you are imparting some great wood-fired flavor in the food. This can be accomplished without the new Timberline XL– simply place a cast iron pan in the Traeger on high heat and let it get super hot. Once the pan is searing hot, you will be able to cook the beef effectively in the Traeger, and the result means you have less mess to clean up and wood-fired flavor added to your food.
Once the filling is cooked (the beef and veggies, mixed with the soup and sour cream), top the mixture with an even layer of frozen tater tots and a hearty dose of shredded cheese. Put the whole thing in the Traeger and cook it in a 350* grill until hot throughout and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
You get the best of all the Traeger qualities in this cook– smoked, seared, and baked– and the end result is a perfect dish for dinner with your family.
While we’re still in the midst of a stretch of hot summer weather, this dish will come in perfectly for fall which is just around the corner. Certainly you can cook it on the Traeger year-round and there’s nothing as comforting as a hotdish casserole when the weather starts to turn too.
ONLY THE BEST CHEESE IN OUR RECIPES
In this dish, we used Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese. It’s one of Cabot’s amazing cheddar cheeses, for which they are known. Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar is milky white in color and has a slightly crumbly, firm texture that’s adored by cheddar lovers who crave a taste of the unexpected. With a nutty, luscious aroma, Seriously Sharp Cheddar delivers an exciting range of flavors and intensity that always surprises and keeps you coming back for another bite.We wanted this dish to have piping hot meat mixture and a melty cheese crust in every bite.
We took a block of Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded it on the box grater and loaded up this dish with cheese in the meat mixture and atop the tater tots. This ensured that every bite would be a cheesy experience and the Cabot cheese would be melty throughout.
- Preheat your Traeger grill to 225* with super smoke.
- Place the pound of ground beef on a small cookie sheet and season with Garlic Junkie seasoning.
- Smoke the ground beef in the Traeger for about 20 minutes.
- While the beef smokes, chop the onion, carrot and celery into small dice.
- Shred the block of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese and set aside.
- Using the induction burner on the Traeger Timberline XL (or a cast iron pan inside a Traeger grill set on high heat), saute the onion, carrot and celery in a bit of butter or oil until just softened.
- Transfer the veggies to a bowl and then sear the ground beef in the same pan until cooked through.
- Combine cooked ground beef and sauteed veggies in a bowl and stir to mix.
- Add the can of soup and the sour cream to the meat mixture and stir well.
- Stir in ¼ of the shredded cheese.
- Turn up temperature of the Traeger grill to 350*.
- Transfer beef mixture to a baking dish and spread evenly.
- Top the beef mixture with frozen tater tots, covering entirely.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top of the tater tots.
- Place the casserole in the grill and bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Carefully remove the dish from the Traeger and allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
RECIPES SIMILAR TO CHEESY TATER TOT CASSEROLE ON THE TRAEGER
Cooking on the Traeger is something we love the most. Here are some recipes that we have shared that include similar ingredients to those in this Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole baked on the Traeger. Two include ground beef and are also cooked in essentially one pan (like this dish!).
PRODUCTS USED IN THIS COOK
- Our family loves using Cabot Creamery Co-operative’s cream cheese and extra sharp cheddar cheeses, and they work particularly well in this kind of recipe. Not only does the quality of the cheese stand out, but the distinct and sharp flavor of the cheddar cheese comes through really well with this combination of ingredients. Not only are we using amazing ingredients in our cooking, but we are using products made by a certified B-Corp that has an intent focus on sustainability, land stewardship, and being good community citizens. As a B-Corp, Cabot Creamery Co-operative has hung their hat on being positive contributors to community and environmental problems. As an elementary teacher, getting to partner with a company like Cabot means that I’m demonstrating to my students how corporate citizenship can make a positive impact!
- Traeger grill– We use our grill to cook everything from steaks and roasts to dessert and sides. It is versatile and imparts some great wood-fired flavor in everything we cook!
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Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole on the Traeger
- Traeger grill
- Small cookie sheet
- Cast iron pan
- Baking dish
- Box grater
- 1 block Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tbsp Garlic Junkie seasoning
- 1 tbsp butter or oil
- 1 white or yellow onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2-3 cups of frozen tater tots
- Set your Traeger to 225* with the super smoke feature on
- Put the ground beef on a small cookie sheet and season it with Garlic Junkie rub
- Smoke the ground beef on the cookie sheet in the Traeger for 20-30 minutes
- Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery into small dice and set aside
- Then shred the block of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese on the box grater
- Heat the cast iron pan on the induction burner on the Traeger Timberline XL
- When hot, saute the onion, carrot and celery in the butter in the pan
- Transfer the veggies to a bowl and set aside
- Using the same pan, cook the smoked ground beef until cooked through
- Drain the meat and combine it with the sauteed veggies
- Crank up the heat in the Traeger to 350*
- To the meat and veggies, stir in the can of soup, the sour cream and ¼ of the cheese
- Add more Garlic Junkie seasoning to taste
- Transfer the meat mixture to a baking dish and spread it evenly
- Top the meat mixture with tater tots, packing them tight
- Top the entire dish with the remaining shredded cheese
- Place the casserole in the Traeger and bake until heated through and bubbly
- Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving