Monday, August 5, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

So-- I'm having a hard time understanding how someone (me) who doesn't really like chicken can have SO many chicken recipes on her page. Hmmm?? But this one is good, maybe great. Looks disgusting though. One 9x13 baking dish... gone in 60 seconds. (ok. not quite that fast- but there were only four of us eating it)

The inspiration for this recipe is from The Black Peppercorn, along with some really great photos that make it look A LOT BETTER than mine.
  • 2 lbs fresh chicken thighs
  • olive or other oil for saute
  • ¾ cup cream cheese
  • 1 5oz bottle of Trader Joe's chili hot sauce (see note* below)
  • 1 teas garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 package (1kg) Tater Tots
  • A couple handfuls grated monterey jack cheese (you could use a mexican cheese blend instead, or just cheddar, or whatever you like. Pepper Jack?)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced green onions, green and white parts
Make the buffalo sauce by melting the cream cheese in a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the hot sauce, and season with garlic salt. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and then remove from the heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/2" strips and saute until minimally cooked (it will finish cooking in the oven).
Mix the buffalo sauce with the chicken and spread it in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top of the buffalo chicken mixture.
Lay the Tater Tots, still frozen, lengthwise in rows, evenly on the chicken and blue cheese. One bag Trader Joe's Tater Tots is more than enough to cover the casserole dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese. I'm pretty certain I used more than a cup of cheese.
Bake in the 350F oven for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with diced celery and green onions before serving. 

*Hot Sauce- My original plan was to use FRANK'S® REDHOT® Buffalo Wings Sauce. But somewhere in the middle of my shopping excursion to TJ's I discovered I really didn't want to make another grocery stop and remembered that the Black Peppercorn recipe had you making your own. The Trader Joe's I shop at has three different types of hot sauce, jalapeno, habanero, and the chili. That was my most difficult decision. Ultimately I went with the least hot according to the scale on the side of the bottle. It was plenty of heat.

I served it with a green salad, but I think a cole slaw would have been a better contrast to the heat.

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