Cheesy chicken casserole. Cheese, chicken, and tater tots. I mean, who wouldn't love that combination? Do you want some comfort food? This is comfort food! It's creamy, crispy, and a little bit salty, too.
And what can you say about tater tots, those crispy little nuggets of perfectly seasoned potatoes? They make everything nestled under them or served on top of them taste better. Tater tots bring out the kid in everyone.
Before I start telling you how to make this yummy dish, let me tell you about tater tots! It's a great story! I'm a sucker for good old American ingenuity and creativity!
Tater tots were originally created from scraps! In 1953, two brothers from Idaho (of course) dreamed up an ingenious way of using the little slivers of potato leftover from manufacturing frozen french fries.
The boys added flour and seasonings then pushed the mixture through an extruder, cut them into little pellets, fried them in oil, and froze them.
They fried them the first time they served them, but soon discovered they tasted every bit as good baked! They were a huge hit from the very start, and the tasty little potato nuggets are still wildly popular today!
You can read all about it here if you're as fascinated with food and creativity as I am!
If you never had tater tot casserole with ground beef and mushroom soup, I'm guessing you grew up on a desert island. Lunchroom ladies everywhere dished out tons of it in schools across America, and they still do.
But how about chicken? It's an excellent source of protein and is often less expensive than ground beef. So why not make a chicken version of this popular hot dish?
In this recipe, boneless chicken breast is infused with great flavor by cooking it with celery, onion, and garlic until it's nice and tender.
You can make quick work of this in an Instant Pot. Start with 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breast. Add a few stalks of celery, some garlic, a small onion, quartered, and about a cup of water.
Pressure cook for 30 minutes or 40 minutes if you start with frozen chicken.
Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and shred it. Set it aside. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard them. Set the Instant Pot to saute and cook until you reduce the broth to about 1 cup.
While that's cooking, dice about a cup of peppers. You can use any color.
In a skillet, saute the peppers in 3 tablespoons of butter until they get soft. Pour broth over the peppers, then and add the soups and sour cream. Stir and simmer until everything is well blended and becomes a rich, savory sauce.
Finally, fold in the shredded chicken and pour the mixture into a greased 13" x 9" baking pan or casserole.
Then, make it cheesy with a blanket of grated cheddar.
Finally, arrange tater tots on top in a single layer for maximum crispiness!
You can pop this right in a 425 and bake it uncovered for about 30 or 35 minutes, long enough for the tater tots to get crispy and brown. Or, you can cover it with foil and refrigerate it for a day or two, the bake it later.
Allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes if you bake it right from the refrigerator. If you bake from frozen, leave the foil on for the first 20 minutes or so, then uncover and bake until the tots are brown and crispy.
I made this cheesy chicken casserole for our grandkids the first time I tried it and they like their veggies on the side. But if you want, add green beans, corn, peas, or mixed vegetables underneath the cheese and taters!
If you're in a real pinch for time, by all means, grab a hot and ready rotisserie chicken and use that! They're nearly always conveniently located by the checkout counter, and they're loaded with great flavor too!
Do you have something special you make with tater tots? I hope you'll dish it out!
If you enjoyed this recipe today, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’d sure be tickled and ever so grateful, thank you!
Love, GB (Betty Streff)
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