So, I pretty much upped the Midwestern factor in the classic tater tot hot dish by making mine with venison and in a skillet. This comes together quickly, will warm you up on a cold night and keep you full for a long time.
Rich homemade gravy studded with onions, garlic and veggies topped with crisp tater tots. Yum. Yum. I really like this recipe as it doesn’t use a creamed can of soup in it. You make your own gravy. I know a lot of people make it with cream of mushroom soup and I can’t think of many things I dislike more than gross mushrooms in a thick cream can soup.
Skillet venison tater tot hot dish, adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
1/2 – 1 lb. venison sausage or meat (sub ground beef or turkey, be sure to add seasonings if you do)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 – 160z. bag frozen, mixed veggies (carrots, green beans & peas)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 heaping tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2lb bag tater tots (not extra crispy)
Shredded cheese (optional topping)
- Preheat oven according to tater tot bag instructions. Brown venison in a very large, oven-proof skillet (at least 10″ – cast iron works great) over medium-high heat. Drain then set aside. If using venison sausage, just remove from casing and brown.
- Turn heat to medium, melt butter with olive oil in skillet, and onion. Season pepper and sauté until onions start to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add frozen mixed veggies and stir all together. Push veggies to the side and add flour in the middle. Cook it in the remaining butter and oil for 2-3 minutes until it begins to brown. Slowly stream in chicken broth and milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Add soy sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika, turn heat up slightly to bring mixture to a bubble, then turn heat back down to medium and simmer until just slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat then stir in ground meat and arrange tater tots on top. Bake according to tater tot bag instructions. Let sit and thicken for 5 minutes before serving. If your skillet is really full, consider baking on pan in case of overflow.
I used venison sausage removed from the casing. I didn’t season my meat since the sausage already had seasoning. If you use beef or turkey you might need to add some salt and pepper to taste. I loved the added flavor the sausage gave to the hot dish though. If you don’t have or make deer sausage I suggest you make friends with someone who does make it. So good!
After you remove your meat, sauté your onion. Things are starting to really smell good. The butter and olive oil work great to remove the bits and pieces from the bottom of the skillet left from browning your meat.
I added my flour to the middle of the pan. You want to make sure you still have some fat (butter or oil) left so you can cook the flour. No one wants to taste pasty flour.
You can see it kind of browns and cooks up. This is what you want.
Let me mixture boil and bubble so it thickens up. It seems like a lot of gravy for the skillet but it cooks down.
Before and after
Make sure you let it sit for a while to cool and continue to thicken before you dish up. And trust me – if you have a cast iron skillet like me – you WILL need both hands to lift that sucker. It is heavy all full of food!
I added some shredded cheese to the top of mine to be just even a little more indulgent.
Anyone else go for that one extra tater tot? That’s the best part! Enjoy!