Chicken Pot Pie meets Tater Tot Hotdish, it’s a story we’re all familiar with and if we’re not, it’s about time we get to know this dish and cozy up next to it. Don’t you think? It’s officially chicken pot pie season and even though there are a million incarnations of it out there already….including multiple on this site (Potato Chicken Pot Pie anyone?), the world has just gotten a much needed new take on this classic dish. I recently grabbed myself a copy of Molly Yeh‘s new cookbook Molly on the Range, and let me tell you, it’s filled with great recipes that are easy to make. Some classic dishes with new twists and new dishes we’ve probably never heard of but should most definitely be trying because they’re delicious. This Chicken Pot Tot Hotdish is one of many recipes I was dying to try, including but not limited to, Funfetti Cake, Hummus with Meat All Over It, Happy Pig Pizza Pockets, and Spinach and Feta Rugelach. I figured I’d dive right into that tater tot hotdish first because I basically lived off tater tots as a kid and this brought me all the way back to those days when I crossed my fingers and prayed that tater tots would be on the menu at school every single day. Especially because Molly suggests to eat this Chicken Pot Tot Hotdish with ketchup on the side and nothing screams childhood more than eating tater tots with ketchup, or eating anything with ketchup for that matter.
So whether you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner that the entire family will love, or you’re just looking for an interesting dish that will be a hit at a party or potluck, this recipe (along with the book) is for you. If you’re like me and have always been wondering how else you can incorporate more tater tots into your daily life, short of just warming up a bag in the oven and eating them all yourself with no regrets, which isn’t a bad idea let me say, at least now we have a valid excuse to stop by the frozen food aisle of the grocery store and grab two bags of frozen tots. One bag for the topping of this dish and one bag for those moments when you need a quick snack. Which for me is always.
Let’s first start by sautéing together the onions and carrots in a little melted butter. I typically sauté in olive oil, most of the time, but I feel like with a chicken pot pie base, you should always sauté in butter because that just give everything a much richer, comfort food, flavor. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper, and fresh thyme.
**Note: If you don’t have fresh thyme on hand, or the supermarket doesn’t have any that day, dried thyme will be just fine! The only thing to keep in mind is that when you cook with dried herbs, they tend to be more potent than fresh, so I always put less than I would with the fresh stuff.**
Once the carrots have softened a bit, sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, while stirring constantly, to cook off some of that raw flour taste. The flour, when mixed with the butter, will create a thickening agent for our chicken pot pie base. This is what is referred to as a roux!
Stir in the milk along with the chicken stock, give it a few more grinds of black pepper and stir in the peas and diced chicken thighs. Cover on low until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is fully cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir often so that it doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom of the skillet.
**Note: The chicken will go in raw at this point, but don’t worry, it’ll fully cook in the sauce. The key is to dice the chicken thighs very small so that it cooks evenly and fast. Also, chicken thighs have much more flavor, but if you prefer, feel free to use boneless chicken breast instead.**
So the original recipe calls for pouring the mixture into one large casserole dish and having it be one hot dish, but I like the idea of doing individual pot pies, so I’m dividing the mixture between small oven-safe ramekins. Top each of the hot dishes with a fair amount of frozen tater tots.
**Note: The tater tots can be fully frozen when placed on top, they’ll cook and brown and crisp up in the oven since these cook in a preheated 400 degree F oven!**
Place the small hot dishes on a baking sheet, to catch any excess dripping from the sauce, and bake until golden and crispy on top, and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving. The filling will be extremely hot right out, so make sure to let them rest a bit so that you or anyone else, doesn’t burn themselves. I’ve had that happen to me on several occasions.
Because the top is all golden brown and one color, I like to garnish these with a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. This ensures a pop of color, for looks, but also gives it another layer of flavor. Plus, thyme and potatoes go so well together.
Molly suggests serving these with ketchup and I’m all for this decision because ketchup and tater tots should be together forever and I like the way she works it. My little trick to jazz up ketchup, whenever I do eat ketchup with something is to mix in hot sauce with it. Grab some ketchup and then drop in a few drops of any hot sauce you like. I prefer Tabasco or Sriracha is great too with the ketchup.
You can easily make this ahead of time. Prepare everything as directed and assemble the tots on top of the filling, wait for it to cool, and then place in the fridge until ready to bake off. This would be great to make earlier in the day and then bake it right before you plan on serving it for dinner. Just place the tray in the oven and bake until golden brown.
**Note: If you do keep this refrigerated, it’ll take an extra 5 to 8 minutes in the oven to cook through as it’ll be cold. You don’t want the tots to be golden and the filling to be stone cold.**
I’ve seen sweet potato tater tots in the frozen section of my grocery store, SO because it is fall and this is about the time we start debating about what dishes we should make for Thanksgiving, this would be a great dish to try this year. Especially if you give it a try with the sweet potato tater tots if you can find them!
Make sure to give this Chicken Pot Tot Hotdish a try very soon, like this week soon, because you won’t regret it. The weather is perfect for it and with tater tots, you really can’t go wrong. Also be sure to pick up a copy of Molly on the Range because there are many more incredible recipes!
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 18 ounces frozen Tater Tots
- Ketchup, for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 4 to 6 small ramekins or a large 3-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and season with salt. Cook stirring until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour so that it gets evenly distributed. Add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Then stir in the chicken stock, peas, chicken thyme, and black pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared ramekins or casserole dish, and cover the top with the frozen Tater Tots. You can place them in a mound on top or line them up for a nicer presentation. Place the ramekins or casserole dish on a baking sheet, to catch any drips, and bake until the tots are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve with ketchup, if desired. Enjoy!
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings