This Mexican Tater Tot Casserole is made with Mexican braised chicken, fajita peppers, and binding it all together is a queso cheese sauce.With Tater Tots on top it can’t get much better!
It seems in certain parts of the States, this is called a hot dish. Well, it is a hot dish and it is topped with Tater Tots and apparently that is what makes this different than a casserole. But not everyone knows what a hot dish is, so casserole, this has become. Which it is! OMG! What a circle.
I ate many a hot dish growing up but they weren’t in my mother’s kitchen; except for her artichoke chicken casserole that is still a family favorite. Many a casseroles were consumed when accompanying my dad as he campaigned for a local county office. He dragged his kids around as he shook hands and smiled. We ate. And usually it was quite good; prepared lovingly for the church supper for whatever event they were celebrating. I remember eating at big long tables and helping ourselves to giant buffets. The desserts were always my favorite.
Having a favorite casserole dish to prepare is perfect when entertaining. Casseroles are usually made ahead and baked when needed. They can be frozen and ready when you need them. Since it is just the two of us, I can make a regular size recipe and freeze half, which gives me an extra meal for the price of one. Somehow with Cinco de Mayo looming I had this chicken fajita idea in my head. But I’ll be honest. I don’t like many of the Mexican casseroles that are churned out because often they are made with tortillas which often turn soggy in a casserole I only like soggy tortillas when they are in chilaquiles. Hence the Tater Tots. Everything tastes good with Tater Tots.
Many casseroles contain canned soups. I also am not a fan of canned soups though I do use them especially when making the artichoke casserole above. I am not above conveniences when the end product turns out great. I do however draw the line at using them often, given that many have additives and lots of salt. Well this casserole is a combo of things that are packaged and not. Feel free to create your own version and if it involves a rotisserie chicken or canned soup or jarred queso I won’t tell.
However I will tell you that this braised chicken is very simple. It can be used in tacos or enchiladas and on quesadillas. I like the added flavor that it supplies in this hot dish! But feel free to sub in a rotisserie chicken. I also made my own cheese sauce but a can of cheese soup or even a jar of queso will work just fine. The idea is that this should be easy. And filling. And perfect food for the accompanying Margarita. Besides, let’s face it…Anything with Tater Tots is a bonus in my book.
Here are some ideas of things to serve with this hot dish:
Mexican Slaw with Mango and Avocado from Cookin’ Canuck
Mexican Street Corn Salad from Princess Pinky Girl
Mexican Cucumber Salad from Give Recipe
And some more:
Mexican Poblano Cheese Casserole
Mexican Tater Tot CasserolePrint Recipe
This Mexican Tater Tot Casserole is made with Mexican braised chicken, fajita peppers, and binding it all together is a queso cheese sauce. With Tater Tots on top it can't get much better!
- Baked Mexican Chicken
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 2 c shredded cooked chicken
- Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder, Oregano, Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Onion Powder
- Tabasco or Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 1 c of your favorite salsa
- 1 c of a light beer (Drink the rest)
- Cheese Sauce
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- 2 T flour
- 2 c milk
- 2 c coarsely grated Cheddar or Jalapeno Monterey Jack
- 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t black pepper
- 14 oz frozen pkg of fajita peppers and onions, THAWED (I buy mine at Trader Joe's.)
- 1/2 c roasted green chile or 2 - 4 oz cans of green chilies drained.
- 1 c coarsely grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack jalapeno cheese
- Frozen Tater Tots (I used 55 tots to cover an 8 x 11 baking dish.
- Garnish: I used equal parts Mexican Crema and hot sauce but this depends on how hot your hot sauce is. Or you could just serve both on the side.
Preheat oven to 325. Start by baking the chicken. I usually do this the day before. Slice chicken breasts in half if they are thick. Place in a greased pan in a single layer. Cover with suggested seasonings. Pour beer and salsa over the chicken and a dash of hot sauce, too! Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool and then shred with two forks.
Start your cheese sauce. Melt butter in a heavy 2 qt saucepan over medium low heat. Add minced garlic and cook until soft. Stir in flour and whisk for two minutes to make a roux. Add milk in a steady stream, whisking and cooking for two minutes. Remove from heat and gradually add 2 c of cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Then add salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400. Mix shredded chicken , fajita peppers and chiles together in a large bowl. Spread half of the mixture into an 11 x 8 greased casserole dish. Spread with half of the cheese sauce. Top that with the rest of the chicken mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with 1 c of grated cheese. Now cover with tots in neat rows.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tots are golden and crunchy. If you want to make this ahead do not cover with tots until ready to bake. You may need to add more time to the cook time since I assume you will have refrigerated this. To reheat if frozen, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour, remove foil, and increase heat to 400 and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until tots are good and crunchy and mixture is hot.
Serve with hot sauce and crema, salsa, ketchup, or anything your heart desires.