No more frozen store-bought tots!
Servings: 4-6Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: few minutes per side
2 pounds potatoes
1 cup cheese, grated
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 eggs (optional)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
oil for frying
Peel potatoes; cut in half and parboil about five minutes. Drain and cool potatoes then shred with a grater (using the large holes).
The parboiled potatoes will be very sticky-starchy, but this sticky-starchiness is the real binder when you form the tots, so don’t curse it too badly. Parboiling the potatoes does a few things. Partial cooking helps them cook the rest of the way quickly when you fry them up, and it also brings out the starch. If you overcook them before forming the tots, you’ll lose that starchiness and have to use some other binder, such as an egg.
Place the shredded potatoes in a mixing bowl and combine with all the other ingredients except the bread crumbs. Vary and adjust the seasonings to your taste. If you don’t like onions, don’t use ’em! You can leave them out entirely, or use something else–peppers or even crab or shrimp or bacon. The world is your tater tot! Make them however you like. And really, what’s NOT good with potatoes? Anything will do. Just don’t overload on the add-in. The sticky-starchy of the potatoes is the binder, remember, and too many other ingredients will make your tots crumble.
Note: I used mozzarella cheese, but you can use cheddar or whatever you have on hand.
Scoop a large spoonful at a time out of the bowl to form the tots. This is going to be messy, so just be one with the tot and get on with it. Squeeze the mixture in your hand and the starchiness of the shredded potatoes will come together to hold its shape.
At this point, you can go ahead and fry them as they are, or dip them in an egg wash then in bread crumbs. I tried them both ways, and they’re delicious both ways. I decided I liked the extra step of the bread crumbs for the added texture. Up to you. (Do NOT dip them in a milk wash–they fall apart immediately. Use an egg wash. I used two whole eggs, whisked.)
In either case, fry tots in a skillet in hot oil, a few minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
You can freeze these, by the way, and have your own homemade frozen tots! You can freeze them before frying, or after frying. If you freeze them after frying, you can heat them later in the oven on a crisper sheet. If you freeze them before frying, be sure to place them in a single layer on a pan and freeze into little tater tot rocks then you can dump them all into a freezer bag.
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