Are Tater Tots the Newest Food Craze?

tater-tots


Do you remember Tater Tots? They have been served in a lot of school cafeterias over the years, and probably as many kid friendly dinner tables. You can hardly call them gourmet fare, though. Well, if a few chefs have their way that will be changing.

The Monterey Herald reports that chefs are dedicated to changing the way we think about Tater Tots. They are making them with different ingredients, serving them with edgy sauces, and topping them with things like truffles. Folks, this is not your mama’s Tater Tot.

Tater Tot Redux

These chefs are not merely adding to the well known bag of frozen potato lumps, either. They are making them from scratch and adding in things like chipotle, jalapeno, bacon, and other ingredients that you’d never expect to see. They are wrapping them with bacon, topping them with caramelized onion marmalade, or using cauliflower, sweet potato and other vegetables instead of the traditional potato. In some places they are even used to top pizza!

And customers are, pardon the pun, eating them up. So, should you be considering adding  this childhood favorite to your menu?

Adding Tots to Your Menu

You might want t to think about adding them to your own menu, especially if you have a bar. Think about it — Tater Tots are they perfect bar food in every way.

  • They are fried and salty which will encourage guests to quench their thirst often.
  • They are finger food.
  • They go great with wings.
  • They are versatile and can be topped with anything from chili and cheese to shaved white truffle.

You could serve plain Tater Tots with a variety of sauces, too. It’s a wide open canvas.

Not Just Potatoes

The beauty of Tater Tots is that they are easy. You can take a basic recipe and adjust it in uncountable ways. Cater to your low-carb guests with tots made from cauliflower, baked Tater Tots will keep the low fat aficionados happy, and sweet potato tots are unique while still being familiar. Carrots, turnips, and even apples are all possibilities if you want to replace the more traditional potato.

Basic Homemade Tater Tots Recipe

Makes 10 servings of 5 tots each

There are the bare bones, basic tots. You can use this recipe and tweak it to suit your taste and imagination.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion, optional
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups peanut* oil, for frying
  • Salt and Pepper for serving

*Peanut oil is the best for frying but can cause allergic reactions. Any high quality frying oil can be substituted

Instructions

  1. Bake the potatoes and let them cool to the point you can touch them. They should be firm in the center, slightly less done than you’d want for a baked potato side dish.
  2. Peel away the skin and discard.
  3. Shred the cooked potato on the largest holes of a box grater.
  4. Transfer to a bowl  and add the rest of the ingredients except the oil.
  5. Mix gently.
  6. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  7. Using a teaspoon measure form some of the potato mixture into a small cylinder.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture.
  9. Fry in hot oil (375F to 400F) in batches of 8 tots.
  10. Watch them carefully and remove them from the oil when they are golden brown.
  11. Drain and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

photo credit: paulcole via photopin cc

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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