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The Tater Tot Topic


Jason Perlow
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I love Tater Tots. I love them because they are crunchy on the outside, yet coarse and potatoey on the inside. They are neither croquette nor french fry. They just are.

Tonight, we professed our love to Tater Tots by combining them with Boeuf Bourginon, a classic French Bistro dish. They were a very effective conveyance for the deep, rich beef gravy.

gallery_2_4_1099268063.jpg

There's another Tater Tot dish I've always wanted to try, if only for its grotesqueness -- The Ms. Lucy Zaunbrecher Tator Tot Casserole. What is this thing? Its sauteed trinity (Celery, Bell Pepper, Onion), condensed cream of mushroom soup, condensed cream of chicken soup, grated cheese and sliced smoked sausage, all cooked up into an amorphous glop in a saute pan, baked into a casserole over layers of Tater Tots.

The Tator Tot Casserole is obviously a very popular dish, as it has at least 160 different variations:

http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,tato...sserole,FF.html

Anyone else have any favorite Tater Tot uses?

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Years ago, when the kids were home, I used to roast them in the oven then put them out for dipping into cheese fondue. The kids didn't like bread dipped in the cheese sauce but they would eat the Tater Tots with cheese until they couldn't swallow.

I would set out little "sideboys" to add a bit of pizazz to the cheese and we liked the combination of crisp crumbled bacon, scallions, toasted nuts and crushed pepper flakes.

So the routine was to spear the TaterTot on a fondue fork, dip it in the fondue, lift it out and turn it a few times until it began to set a bit then dip it into one or more of the "extras".

A quickly thrown-together meal for game nights.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Is this a trick question used to ferret out those of us who don't really belong here amongst the gourmets and gourmands?

Pssst! Try them topped with chili and cheese.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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Is this a trick question used to ferret out those of us who don't really belong here amongst the gourmets and gourmands?

It is eGullet's version of the Mensa Entrance Exam .... :hmmm:

Know how they were first developed? :rolleyes: Quite by a fluke actually ...

producing French fries, a process that entailed shaving the potatoes into rectangular blocks before slicing them. The shavings were later sold for a pittance as livestock feed.... Couldn't something more profitable be done with the scraps? By 1953, the answer: The shavings were ground, mixed with spices, extruded, and fried. The result was Tater Tots, and the world—or at least suburban kitchens and school cafeterias—would never be the same. ...  new product: bringing 15 pounds of Tater Tots to the National Potato Convention in Miami later that year. There he bribed the convention's chef to serve up the nuggets. They were an instant sensation...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Too many memories of Tater Tot casserole in a college cafeteria. Styrofoam glued together with snot.

My kids used to feel deprived because their friends all got tater tots, hamburger helper, etc. at their houses, and my kids were subject to larb, smoked pork butt, etc.

My kids have seen the light (or the smoke, or the larb, or the curry...).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Sheesh, what a bunch of snots. :wacko::raz:

Cmon! Admit it! You just about HAVE to like tater tots. What's not to like? Delicious crunchy potato goodness on the outside and soft, lovely potato goo on the inside. It would be hard to ask for a more noble way to go if you were a potato and could ask (which of course you aren't and even if you were you couldn't ask because you wouldn't be able to talk, but that doesn't matter anyway because this is my story-and I'm sticking to it.)

I love the things. I don't eat them that often, but when the opportunity arises, I am ready for the challenge. Our local store (only store in town, makes exceptionally good hamburgers from scratch along with the usual array of boiled seafood) serves them with their burgers and po boys instead of fries and I get them every time I go in there. Extra crunchy please.

Next ya'll will tell me that you don't like jello. How many bubbles can I survive bursting in one day? Please, I beg of you, take it easy.

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Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Cmon! Admit it! You just about HAVE to like tater tots. What's not to like? Delicious crunchy potato goodness on the outside and soft, lovely potato goo on the inside.

Damned skippy! Fried or baked, that's the only real question (and, really, that isn't a very tough call if you've got the oil at 350 anyhoo).

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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They make a lovely small game hunting weapon with a piece of 3/4 conduit when they are still frozen. :wink:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Sheesh, what a bunch of snots. :wacko:  :raz:

Cmon! Admit it! You just about HAVE to like tater tots. What's not to like? Delicious crunchy potato goodness on the outside and soft, lovely potato goo on the inside.

OK, OK. They're on the grocery list. The only reason I've always hated them is the association with the previously mentioned tater tot hot dish served in a college dorm. I will report back after we've consumed this delicacy.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Okay, I almost posted about this on the store brands thread, but as long as we're outing ourselves about Tater Tot usage... for those with Safeways (and I assume Von's) in the vicinity, try the house brand 'Tater Treats'. Much better than the 'original' Ore-Ida product, which underwent some kind of change some years ago and since then has been noticeably deficient. This is one of the few actual 'food products' I buy at Safeway.

Like Brooks, I don't eat these every day. But I do try to keep a supply on hand in my freezer for when the fancy strikes. Do yourselves a favor and do a side-by-side taste test. I'm pretty sure you'll agree the Safeway product is superior.

Cheers,

Squeat

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Mmmmm! Tater Tots, no longer a guilty pleasure! :laugh:

Sprinkle with Tabasco sauce.

Dip in sour cream and hot salsa.

Pop in the oven with grated cheese -- sharper the better -- and melt under broiler.

I have never been subjected to the TT casserole trauma. Never even heard of it. :blink: Whew! What a way to ruin a simple good convenience food.

Yeah, patti, they are good with chili and cheese on top. Y'all have Sonic Drive-Ins? They've been serving up the Tots that way for years. Just ask for it. And you can get 'em instead of fries.

I bake the little guys sometimes, but the mr loves 'em fried so I relent. And aren't they just better that way? Especially if you caramelize some onions in the pan first and use minimal oil to get all that goodiness.

Also really good in breakfast tacos instead of the usual taters. Have to give credit to a taco stand in Austin for that one.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I've sprinkled them with various spices and herbs before baking them. A favorite combination is ground chilis, garlic granules, dried oregano (or thyme), cayenne powder, a bit of cumin and salt and pepper. Yum!

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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lovebenton0, oh YEAH!!! Sonic rocks!! The one thing I consistently crave up here!!

Chilidogs with tater tots...old fashioned #1 burgers with pickle o's and tots...

Someone looking for a franchise of pure gold oughta bring Sonic to 'fly-over country'!! Hey, we just got Krispy Kremes this year, so I suppose anything is possible. :raz:

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That's more like it!

Kind of like a twelve step meeting. Much easier to admit a problem when you are in a room full of people with the same affliction.

Not that tater tots are a problem or anything.

I'm just saying....... :laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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It's funny Squeat mentioned the Safeway store brand, because that's what we have, well, not Safeway, but Pathmark. Much better than Ore Ida. And, you bake them at 450 F (actually, I do them at 425F w/convection), they don't need to actually be fried at home.

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... for those with Safeways (and I assume Von's) in the vicinity, try the house brand 'Tater Treats'. Much better than the 'original' Ore-Ida product, which underwent some kind of change some years ago and since then has been noticeably deficient. This is one of the few actual 'food products' I buy at Safeway...

Thanks Squeat! I use my local Safeway like most people use Costco-to stock up on bulk items. I'll buy some next time I go.

On a related tangent, how do you prepare them? Someone mentioned frying them; that seems like too much work to me. I do think Tater Tots are much better if they are very crisp. I use a black steel pan like these sold at Bridge: http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/moreinfo.cfm?Product_ID=36 These pans get things much crisper than an aluminum pan (they don't work at all for something like a cookie.) I also use the convection setting without lowering the recommended temperature. I think I always coook them for longer, too-I like them really brown. Don't crowd the pan, and toss w/ Kosher salt as soon as they come out. Mmmmm...

I eat Tater Tots a few times a year. I like serving them with a fried egg sandwich (on Acme sourdough toast) for dinner. I never thought about serving them as a side dish with something more "formal", like Beef Bourgignon. This opens up all sorts of chances to eat them!

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It's funny Squeat mentioned the Safeway store brand, because that's what we have, well, not Safeway, but Pathmark. Much better than Ore Ida. And, you bake them at 450 F (actually, I do them at 425F w/convection), they don't need to actually be fried at home.

Now that is a revelation. For some stupid reason, I never thought of that. I don't have one of those little Fry Daddys so I have only indulged in the Tots when they are available out. I will now equip myself with a bag on the next trip to Randall's (owned by Safeway) an indulge in my passion. A nice trip through the DeLonghi should do it.

I confess to liking all of the above... well, maybe I would give the casserole a pass. But I haven't seen my favorite lately. I was in some generic breakfast place somewhere and, imagine my surprise to find Tater Tots next to my omelet instead of the hashbrowns. That was truly inspired. I started seeing them as little golden hashbrown nuggets with the crisp surface to gooey innards ratio just about perfect. I asked the waitress about this stroke of genious. She snickered and said that she thought the manager forgot to order the hashbrowns and that all they had in potato inventory for breakfast service was fries and Tots. The cook chose the Tots as being closer to hashbrowns. I had her tell the cook of his genius. They sent me a free side. I now ask if that substitution is available. Yes, I get some funny looks.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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