We are Breakfast Team Six. We have bacon, the makings for sawmill gravy and the Tater Tot casserole in our possession and we are determined to make it through the flood waters to St Paul’s Episcopal Church. It is 6:45 a.m. and the skies are angry. We head down Franklin Road and are stopped at the bridge over the Harpeth. It is closed. We detour to Liberty Pike. It is closed.
I call the church to see if the rest of our team is there. Father Bob answers the phone. “Don’t even try to get to the church. Every road into Franklin is closed. Just go home.” I tell Mark what Father Bob said. He immediately turns the car towards Columbia Pike in Franklin. “What are you doing?” I ask. “It won’t hurt to see if it’s open,” he responds. Never tell a man with a Tater Tot casserole on board that he can’t get to where he’s going. Columbia Pike is, indeed, still passable. We arrive at church to discover that the rest of Team Six was smarter than us and decided to stay home.
We cook breakfast: Biscuits, sausage, bacon, homemade sawmill gravy, grits and the Tater Tot casserole. We expect no one to show up. Father Bob has a sausage and bacon biscuit. Decadent for him. Let’s throw caution to the wind. Much of Franklin is under water. And then he appears. Jim Ulezelski. “I looked to see who was cooking breakfast this morning and I knew you’d be here so I came.” I love Jim Ulezelski normally but I am besotted with the man this morning.
We pack everything up and bring it home. There will be shrimp and grits tonight. Sausage biscuits were assembled. Nothing will go to waste.
I try to make light of our meager problems navigating Williamson County in a flood. But if you have a spare moment, say a prayer for the people who lost their lives, lost their homes or are facing catastrophic clean-ups because of the water.
Now to that Tater Tot casserole. I made the whole thing up last night out of desperation that I would have nothing special to serve should we make it to the church and should anybody show up. It was absolutely delicious and I knew it would be because it has Velveeta in it and you cannot go wrong with Velveeta.
Tater Olé Casserole
16 ounces Tater Tots
6 ounces Mexican chorizo
8 ounces Velveeta, sliced into cubes
½ cup milk
1 4-ounce can diced chiles
Prepare Tater Tots in oven according to package directions
Saute chorizo over medium heat until it is cooked through and beginning to brown.
Remove chorizo and discard excess fat. Add Velveeta and melt over low heat. Once melted, add enough milk to make a sauce. Add chorizo and chiles.
To assemble casserole, put Tater Tots in a 9-by-9 pan. Spoon sauce over Tots. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.