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The Tater Tot Topic


Jason Perlow
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I never deep fry -- anything! -- including the tots. But when I do pan fry it's always in the cast iron skillet and the six or seven minutes it takes, after the carmelized onions, or with garlic cloves, is a time well spent. If I don't have that then into the oven they go, and baked longer than usual.

Never add salt to mine, I leave that up to personal table abuse. :laugh:

Jason, the extra crispy are good. :wink:

Also has anyone tried those little "totlets," small discs of Tater Tot sibs? Don't remember what OreIda is calling them. They have an even larger crispy crunch to soft inside ratio. We get those sometimes. Lend themselves well to tossing with grilled onions and roasted pepper.

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'm in the "love them every so often" camp. I have fond memories of watching David Letterman's debut some 22+ years ago, while my freshman dorm buddies down the hall cooked up batches of the little buggers for us in their illegal toaster oven.

Very near my office, in Glenview, IL is a divey joint called Meier's Tavern which serves a fairly decent burger and their trademark side dish is tater tots. People will go out of their way to hit Meier's for the tots. :biggrin:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Well, I do love Tater Tots. I was never served them as a child, so I suppose I avoid some stigma that various users seem to experience when trying to consume them (e.g. Tater Tot "casserole").

Here in Nashville, anyway, there are three major varieties of Ore-Ida brand tots:

1. The traditional tater tot. About 1 inch in length and a half-inch in diameter, shaped like a cylinder.

2. The "tater crown", which is the same thing served as a breakfast potato at a few major fast food restaurant. This one is about one inch across and a quarter-inch in thickness. I suppose it's quicker to fry, but the texture is more-crunchy-than-mealy.

3. The mini-tater-tot. For those who like the crunchy outside the best, these tots reign supreme. They're basically a perfect 1/3 scale model of a normal tater tot. I like these a lot. I'll probably use these in my "tater tot mashed potatoes" at Thanksgiving.

---

On another note, here's my question. Short of deep-frying (too much trouble for a tot), what's the best way to cook these bad boys? In the oven, the traditional way? Has anybody tried pan-frying them in clarified butter, for example?

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Thanks for the tip, Squeat, on Safeway's home brand; I need to check them out.

Saveur had a big feature article this month on all things potato. Here is a quote on US potato production germane to Tater Tots:

"Frozen potatoes: Includes not just the standard 1/4 inch french fries but also curly, crinkle-cut, shoestring, batter-coated, brined, peel-on, wedge (steak fry), concertina, and cottage fries, plus hash browns and Tater Tots. A third of the U.S. crop goes into frozen potatoes (mainly fries), and half of our exported potatoes are sold, as fries, to Japan."

As GG mentioned above, the small pieces, scraps of potatoes that aren't suitable for french fry production are slated for Tator Tots or frozen hashbrowns.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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As GG mentioned above, the small pieces, scraps of potatoes that aren't suitable for french fry production are slated for Tator Tots or frozen hashbrowns.

It may have started out that way, but the demand is so high that they are using whole potatoes for tots as well. There's only so much scrap from the fry making process.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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2. The "tater crown", which is the same thing served as a breakfast potato at a few major fast food restaurant.  This one is about one inch across and a quarter-inch in thickness.  I suppose it's quicker to fry, but the texture is more-crunchy-than-mealy.

These, or something virtually identical, are served as Potato Ole's at the Mexican chain, Taco John's

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I don't think I've ever eaten a Tater Tot. But I have eaten frozen, pre-made latkes which I think are very familiar. They are so addicting, it's rediculous. You can't eat just one. Fortunately, I only see them once a year.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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At Sonic too.

Ahh, I thought they served the "full tot" at Sonic :wink:

Carry on :smile:

=R=

No, you're right. They do serve the "full tot" at Sonic. There's one three blocks from my house!

They serve the "Crispy Crowns" at Jack-In-The-Box and Burger King. I think both of the places call them "Hash Rounds" at breakfast, but you can buy them in the freezer section as "Crispy Crowns". In my opinion, they're all crust and don't share the same proportions as a bona-fide Tater Tot, which has a perfect ratio of crispy-and-properly-burned to mealy-and-kinda-underdone.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Ok, I never post, but when it comes to tater tots it's hard to stay silent. A few years ago a friend and myself taste tested various dips and condiments with tots: Sriricha, salsa, hummus, etc. Blue cheese dressing was the winner (blue cheese dressing was also a favorite pepperoni pizza dip for another friend). The frightening part of our experiement was that the sack of frozen tots we had easily shared in one evening was meant to be 13 servings according to the nutritional guidelines.

Despite my my obvious disregard for fat and oil, the tots don't really seem to benefit from deep-frying. It goes against the everything tastes better fried approach I usually live by.

My all-time favorite tater tot recipe (that I've yet to actually make), an award winner from the Ore-Ida site:Pineapple Cranberry Tater Tot Pudding

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hmmm. my sonic down here serves the crowns for breakast.

altho it might be different at diff sonics, at diff times fo the year. i still haven't been able to coordinate a successful fried pickle chip visit with them.

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hmmm.  my sonic down here serves the crowns for breakast.

About five years ago, Taco Bell had a product that included genuinely deep-fried (and not soggy) Crispy Crowns as part of a beef burrito of some sort with cheese, sour cream, and the good shit.

It was the best Taco Bell product I had ever tasted. And I'm somewhat of a Taco Bell connoiseur.

They have brought it back, but unfortunately now the potato discs taste microwaved and not deep-fried.

However, if you ever get a chance, plop some crispy Tater Tot-type items on your burrito. Heaven, baby. Pure heaven.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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My all-time favorite tater tot recipe (that I've yet to actually make), an award winner from the Ore-Ida site:Pineapple Cranberry Tater Tot Pudding

Somebody needs to make this and get back to us, you know, for investigative purposes. (Oh, and it can't be me because I don't do dessert these days).

I wonder if a tin of fruit cocktail could in any way improve that recipe?

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On another note, here's my question.  Short of deep-frying (too much trouble for a tot), what's the best way to cook these bad boys?  In the oven, the traditional way?  Has anybody tried pan-frying them in clarified butter, for example?

I shallow fry them. It doesn't really take much oil that way, but I think they're much better than baked. And let's face it, if you're spending the calories, you may as well have them the best they can be, right?

Once time I happened to have leftover bacon grease and used that as the cooking medium. Quite worthwhile.

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About five years ago, Taco Bell had a product that included genuinely deep-fried (and not soggy) Crispy Crowns as part of a beef burrito of some sort with cheese, sour cream, and the good shit.

It was the best Taco Bell product I had ever tasted.  And I'm somewhat of a Taco Bell connoiseur.

They have brought it back, but unfortunately now the potato discs taste microwaved and not deep-fried.

However, if you ever get a chance, plop some crispy Tater Tot-type items on your burrito.  Heaven, baby.  Pure heaven.

really? the idea of potatoes in my burrito kinda freak me out. But you say it's good huh? altho i bet it would be really good in a chalupa shell.

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Tater Tots are celebrating their golden anniversary this year. Here's Ore-ida's Tater Tot site:

http://www.oreida.com/tot_spot/

They've apprently rolled out a new "Extra Crispy" variant which now I really want to try, even if I have to pay a premium for it instead of the $1.60 per huge bag of supermarket brand ones.

Whoa. I didnt realize Heinz owns Ore-ida. Maybe I need to reconsider that thought. At least for another two days.

Is that a political endorsement? :unsure:

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Yes, the frozen, pre-made latkes (are we talking about the triangular shaped ones?) are the Tater Tot's Jewish cousin.

Are these similar to Arby's Potato Cakes?

Along with the Jamocha Shake, these are pretty much the only things left worth getting there.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Yes, the frozen, pre-made latkes (are we talking about the triangular shaped ones?) are the Tater Tot's Jewish cousin.

Are these similar to Arby's Potato Cakes?

Along with the Jamocha Shake, these are pretty much the only things left worth getting there.

Yes, they are very similar.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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Many years back when the kids were still at home, I had a Garland stove with a salamander. After school the kids would come home, fire it up, throw a bunch of Tater Tots in a big square carbon steel pan with a long handle, made for the salamander, slide it into the opening and shake it back and forth until they were brown and crispy. It didn't take long and I don't think I have ever tasted better.

It was their favorite snack and they added cheddar cheese powder or taco seasoning, and after H. Salt Fish and Chips appeared on the scene would sprinkle the vinegar bought at the shop on the corner.

I liked them with just salt & pepper or with melted cheese. (see earlier post)

I was sorry to lose that stove but when we moved I had another stove that I liked better so we sold it along with the house.

"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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