Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Tater Tot.... a labor of love

You wouldn't think the most amazing thing served in an upscale, white tablecloth steakhouse would be a tater tot, would you?  In my humble opinion, you'd be wrong.  At the Hanover Street Chophouse, we have a side dish of truffled tater tots that is absolutely to die for.  Not realizing my undertaking, this past Sunday, I decided to put my own spin on the amazing little puffs of potato and create my own version.

Now, at the Chophouse, we make the tots and toss them in white truffle oil.  No complaints about this method of "truffling" but I wanted to take it to the next level.  I do love my truffles...

Mashing the potatoes (with Grandma's hand-me-down potato masher of course)
I started by simply boiling some new potatoes, skins and all.  I like a little bit of texture in my tots and the majority of the nutrition in a potato comes from the skin.  Once soft, I drained them off and added 1/2 cup of skim milk, 3 tablespoons of Vermont cultured butter, 1/2 of a finely grated truffle and 2 tablespoons of white truffle oil (when shopping for truffle oil, look for a canola or safflower oil blend.  Olive oils carry a ton of their own flavor and will dilute the truffle).  Mash until you have a semi-chunky but well blended consistency. 

Once you have a good mash, spread the potatoes into a baking dish about 2 inches deep and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. 

Now, we're getting to the "labor" portion of the assembly.  Once your potatoes are cool, take an apple corer and punch out your tots.  Once you've made one pass through the pan, just pack the potatoes together to one side and make another pass.  This way, you can use the majority of the mashed potatoes and have minimal waste.  Place your formed tots in a bowl. 

My apple corer is one of my favorite kitchen tools... although I don't think I've ever used it to core an apple.
Tots... phase 1
Once you've formed all of your potatoes into tots, chill them for at least 30 minutes.  this will help them stay "tot-like" during the breading.  Once you're ready, set up a flour, egg wash and panko breadcrumb station.  Mix about 2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper and sea salt into your panko breadcrumbs.  Dip each tot in the flour, egg wash and panko and place on a cookie sheet.  The panko should fully coat each tot.  If necessary, you can double bread them to get a full, even coating.  I highly recommend using Trader Joe's panko breadcrumbs if possible.  They're coarsely ground so you can get an even coating with just one pass. 

Tots... phase 2
It is now time to fry your tots.  Cover the bottom of your fryer basket with a single layer of tots.  Do not overcrowd the fryer or you won't get them to crisp properly (and let's be honest, who wants a soggy tot?).

Tots... phase 3
Once each batch comes out of the fryer, lightly toss them in white truffle oil and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  I used a black truffle infused sea salt, but as we have already established, I love my truffles.  The finishing touch, truffled ketchup for dipping.  Normally I would have made my ketchup from scratch, however after forming, breading and frying each individual tot, my desire to actually eat them was overwhelming and I cheated a bit.  I mixed 1 teaspoon of black truffle oil with 4 tablespoons of organic ketchup.  Not quite as good as homemade, but absolutely served its purpose!

The final product

1 comment:

  1. Quick side note: You can freeze and reheat any uneaten tots in the oven later!