What could be more Irish than the spud and more American than “tater tots,” or potato tots. Popularly known as something you grab in the frozen aisle at the supermarket these little gems are perfect as a side dish or a finger food…it is almost football season after all.
Tater tots were created in 1953, in Ontario, Oregon, when Ore-Ida founders, F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. They chopped up the slivers, added flour and seasoning, then pushed the mash through holes and sliced off pieces of the extruded mixture. By 1956 their product was on sale in stores.
Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of tater tots per year. That’s about equal to the amount of potatoes the whole of Ireland eats per year. Well played USA!
Here’s how to make your own tater tots at home:
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled (about 3 medium-large potatoes)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 quart vegetable oil, peanut or canola
- Place the peeled potatoes in a large pot and fill cold water until the potatoes are covered under at least an inch of water.
- Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high and boil the potatoes until they are just beginning to soften but are not totally cooked through, about 7-8 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Shred potatoes on the large holes of a box grater.
- The shredded potatoes should feel dry to the touch. If not, use a clean dish towel to squeeze out excess water from the potatoes.
- Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Stir in the corn starch, garlic powder (if using), onion powder (if using), salt, and pepper to taste.
- Dust your hands and counter lightly with cornstarch. Take about 1 cup of the potato mixture and form a log about 12-inches log and 1-inch thick.
- Cut the log into pieces about 1-inch long. Repeat until all the potato mixture is used.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350F (medium-high). The oil should be at least 2-inches deep for frying.
- Add potato tots to the hot oil, 5-6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes, gently stirring with a metal spider to keep from sticking together.
- Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or tray to drain any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
- Serve with ketchup or a sauce of your choice [us Irish are going to say curry!]
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