I love fall, and I love my slow cooker, and I love tater tot casserole. I have made TTC, as we call it at my house, with ground beef several times, but this was the first time I used chicken, and it was a hit! The best thing about TTC is that it's completely forgiving. Amounts don't have to be exact. Use whatever meat you like. Add in vegetables, or don't. You're the boss of your own TTC!
I used chicken this time because I bought a pack of super discounted boneless skinless chicken thighs at the store the other day. They were a day from the sell-by date, but I got 12 thighs for $6, saving about $2.50. That's a bargain! The next morning, I threw all of the thighs into my slow cooker, added about a cup of water, sprinkled some Italian seasoning on top, and set it on high. By early afternoon, the chicken was cooked perfectly! I lifted it out onto a cutting board and cut all the meat into bite-sized pieces. I set half aside for my TTC, and put the other half and all the broth from the slow cooker into the fridge. I'm using them to make my Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup tonight!
I poured enough frozen tater tots into my slow cooker (the same one I just used to cook the chicken ... no washing required, so yay!) to cover the bottom. Then I sprinkled on some real bacon bits on top. The good kind that are really like chopped up pieces of bacon. Of course, you could use chopped up pieces of bacon, but I had the bits handy, and they're really good. Next came a handful of cheese sprinkled over the top. I had a huge bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese, so that's what I used. Next, I added all the chicken I had reserved for the TTC. If you were going to add vegetables like corn, or green beans, I would mix them in with the meat. We had our veggies on the side, so I didn't add any. On top of the meat, add another layer of tots (so the crock is nearly full), bacon, and cheese.
To turn this into a casserole, you need something to bind it together. You can use any type of cream soup, but I love the cream of mushroom with garlic, so that's what I used. Whisk a can of soup together with about 2/3 can of milk, and just pour over the top of your layered dish.
Since the meat is already cooked, all you really need to do is warm this through, cook the tots, and make it bubbly and delicious. I cooked it on high for about 2 hours, then turned it on low until we were ready to eat a few hours later.
Like I said, this is a foolproof way to make a hearty, delicious dinner the whole family will love. Use whatever meat, veggies, soup, and cheese you like, and make your own custom TTC!