Most Viewed Stories
Tater tots love to dip
Recipes take dunkers beyond basic ketchup
Whether you make from-scratch potato tots or rely on tried-and-true Tater Tot originals, ketchup is often the condiment of choice.
Want something more? How about a cheesy dip? Or a spicy chipotle mayonnaise? Or a quick soy-based sauce?
Before you dismiss Tater Tots and its ilk as another example of mid-20th century American food tinkering, consider where tots may actually come from. Asked in an email if there was a classic culinary antecedent for tots, the French-born and trained Jacques Pepin replied quickly in the affirmative.
"Certainly potato croquettes (riced cooked potato and egg yolk shaped like corks, balls or disks, breaded and fried) or potato duchesse (the same but no breading and baked) are the ancestors," wrote Pepin. He pointed curious cooks to "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" and other classics for recipes.
Where is the tater nation?
Ore-Ida's iconic Tater Tots are sold across North America, of course, but where are those little treats most popular? The northwest central parts of the United States, according to Max Wetzel, associate marketing director for Ore-Ida. That means Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Wetzel theorizes this is due to the popularity of comfort foods in the region, including a Tater Tot hot dish casserole.
• • •
Lara Ferroni, author of "Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats without All the Junk," likes to grate a little sweet potato or yam into her tots. She also keeps the potato skin on to preserve more nutrients.
Her recipe, adapted from Cooks Country magazine, calls for corn flour and ground millet flour; substitute whole-wheat flour if you prefer.
Makes: About 54 tots
2 pounds russet potatoes (5-6 medium potatoes), cut into chunks
1 medium sweet potato or yam (1⁄4 pound), cut into chunks
2 cups cold water
2-1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
2 teaspoons each: corn flour, ground millet flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Safflower or peanut oil, for frying
Place the potatoes in a food processor. Pulse five or six times, or until coarsely ground.
Combine the cold water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add potatoes; stir to coat. Drain well through a fine sieve, pushing out as much water as you can.
Transfer the potatoes to a microwave-safe bowl; microwave four minutes. Stir; microwave four minutes. Stir in the corn flour, millet flour, cayenne and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt.
Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment; pour in the potato mixture. Spread it evenly; cool to room temperature. Chill in the freezer until frozen, at least 20 minutes. Cut into 1- by 1-1⁄2-inch tots.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan or skillet to 370 degrees. Fry the tots in batches, being sure not to crowd the pan, until tots are golden brown, one to two minutes. Remove the tots with a slotted spoon; place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Repeat with the remaining tots. Serve immediately.
• • •
If you're up for some bites of potato-style Americana, try dipping your tots in the following tasty accompaniments.
In "The Texas Cowboy Cookbook," Rob Walsh recommends serving this dip with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos, chalupas or Frito pie. Why not a dunkable for potato tots, too?
Walsh said the dish can be made in a double boiler or microwave, but he also recommends a slow cooker.
"You can leave it there for hours, ladling small amounts into serving bowls while the rest stays warm," he wrote.
Walsh's recipe calls for Velveeta cheese and a can of Rotel tomatoes, a brand of canned tomatoes with green chilies.
CHILI CON QUESO
Makes: 2 cups
1 pound processed cheese (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 can (10 ounces) tomatoes with green chilies
Melt processed cheese in a slow cooker or double boiler. Stir in canned tomatoes. Serve warm.
• • •
At The Knick restaurant in Milwaukee, the house-made potato tots are paired with a chipotle aioli. The owner is keeping mum on his recipe, so try this one from "The Oldways Table" by chef Paul O'Connell of Chez Henri in Cambridge, Mass.
The original recipe calls for 1 small can (about 7 ounces) chipotle chilies. We found using just two chilies was plenty spicy. Add more or less to suit your taste.
Makes: About 2 cups
2 egg yolks
2 crushed cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1⁄2 cup each: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil
1⁄2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 chipotle chilies, or more to taste
1 red onion, finely chopped
Combine the egg, egg yolks, garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. With the machine still running, add the olive oil and canola oil in a slow stream; blend until the mixture emulsifies to the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the cilantro and chilies; blend until smooth. Stir in the red onion; serve.
TANGY SOY DIPPING SAUCE
Makes: About 2⁄3 cup
1⁄3 cup light (regular) soy sauce
2-1⁄2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1⁄8 teaspoon sugar, optional
1 to 3 tablespoons chili oil, optional
1 piece (1-inch long) fresh ginger, peeled, finely shredded, or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors for a tart-savory balance. Add chili oil as you like for heat. Right before serving, add the ginger or garlic.
Source: From "Asian Dumplings" by Andrea Nguyen.