Years ago, my friend took me to a restaurant that had the biggest portion of chili cheese fries known to man for only $4. Freshly fried french fries were topped with savory beef chili and tons of shredded cheddar. I’ve been going to the same establishment ever since whenever I want a good helping of chili cheese fries. Not too long ago, I was having that craving again but decided to make my own at home with tater tots instead of french fries. Tater tots with chili cheese? How can it go wrong?
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The best chili is cooked over low heat for a long period of time. I remember watching an episode of Top Chef where the challenge was to cook the best chili. All of the chefs stayed up during the entire night to cook their chili, stirring as needed. Now you can add different spices, aromatics and fix-ins such as beans, peppers, different proteins, but since this is for chili cheese tater tots, I stuck to simple beef chili.
Make sure to stir the pot periodically to prevent the bottom from burning. I was limited on time so I only cooked my chili for 1 hour. Even after one hour, the chili had developed great flavor from the spices and tomatoes.
If you’re cooking the chili for longer than one hour, you may need to add water to prevent the chili from drying out. Simply add 1/2 cup water at a time and let it cook out before adding more.
Since I was making the chili, I decided to just buy tater tots instead of making them myself. I reheated mine in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F until crisp. Serve with hot chili and top with cheese. The heat from the chili will be hot enough to melt the cheese.
The chili seems so simple but it really makes the dish! The crisp but soft tater tots with hot chili and gooey cheese…all the reasons why I love chili with potatoes come rushing back as I indulged in this dish. Plenty of leftover chili and tater tots mean I’ll be having this again…probably tomorrow!
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