This is a great year-round dish. It’s hot and hearty, it packs a little heat to warm your belly, but it is surprisingly light. So, regardless of the season or the climate, this is a great dish. It’s also very versatile and can be easily customized to your tastes and dietary needs. For example, we have a family member who can’t have corn so we serve the corn on the side and those of us who can have corn simply mix it in on our plates.
The black beans could be swapped out for a different kind of bean. The green chiles could be swapped for something hotter. The taco seasoning can be adjusted as can the cheese blend. I encourage you to modify and make it your own, but first try this version because it is pretty darned good.
At home, you can make this using a skillet and a casserole dish or, if your skillet is large enough and oven proof, you could make it all in the one skillet. In camp, you could make this using the same skillet and casserole dish combo with a box oven or you could do the whole thing in a Dutch oven.
Start to finish, this takes about an hour to get on the table, which is nice and while it’s baking, you can prepare your side dishes. I recommend a green salad with a cool creamy dressing, cornbread, or simply a handful of chips. You’ll also want to have some sour cream and salsa handy, as well as a good hot sauce for those who like it spicy! Chop some fresh cilantro for a garnish and serve with a pitcher of lemonade and/or margaritas.
12-inch skillet, 9×13 casserole dish, and box oven; or 12-inch Dutch oven
Ingredients for casserole
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 batch taco seasoning mix (see my recipe below) or you could use a store-bought packet
1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.4-ounce) bag frozen corn
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
3 cups shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese or your favorite mexi-blend, divided
4-5 cups frozen tater tots
Cilantro, optional garnish
Sour cream, optional
Taco Seasoning Mix
(This is for 1-pound of ground protein)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
3-6 dashes of Tabasco sauce, added separately (I mixed it into the enchilada sauce)
Prep coals or preheat oven for 375°F. For home or a box oven, spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Over coals or a camp stove or stove top, on medium heat, using a 12-inch skillet or a Dutch oven, brown the ground beef and sauté the onion until thoroughly cooked. Drain off excess fat if you need to. Add the taco seasoning, enchilada sauce, green chiles, black beans, frozen corn and stir until combined. Simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.
For the skillet/casserole dish to oven method, pour the meat mixture into the casserole dish, sprinkle on 2 cups of the cheese, and gently place the tator tots on top (you don’t want them mixed in). Make sure the tator tots are spread evenly over the top in one layer. The casserole dish can go into a 375°F box oven or home oven. The box oven will need about 15 coals.
For the skillet or Dutch oven method, remove from heat and let it rest for just a moment to stop bubbling. Sprinkle on 2 cups of the cheese, and gently place the tator tots on top (you don’t want them mixed in). Make sure the tator tots are spread evenly over the top in one layer. The skillet can go directly into the 375°F oven. The Dutch oven can be lidded and moved to coals on the top and bottom for a 375°F oven. A 12-inch Dutch oven will need about 27 coals (18 on the top and 9 underneath).
Bake for 35-40 minutes then sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the top and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with chopped cilantro, sour cream, chips and salsa, salad, and/or cornbread.
Serves about 8.
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