Homemade Potato Tots

With the new year upon us, many people have made resolutions that involve some kind of food restriction. I’m not one of those people. As a big time foodie, I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. However, I do walk on my treadmill everyday to counteract all the deliciousness I like to enjoy.

When I turned 40 I made my last New Year’s resolution, and it’s the only one that I’ve ever managed to keep. Two years ago I resolved to never make another New Year’s resolution. I decided to just live my life the best way I know how all the time. It doesn’t matter to me what time of year it is, if I want to make a change in my life I just do it when the mood hits me. That way this change can happen immediately and not several months away in anticipation of a new year. So far it’s worked out quite well for me.

I’ve learned to cut myself some slack and take each day as it comes. There’s no pressure to live up to someone else’s expectations of me. That’s one of the many benefits of being over 40. I feel like my life finally belongs to me.  That’s why I’ve started the new year off with fried food. It makes me happy and tastes better than anything not fried. Woo-hoo!

Last week I made homemade tater tots for the first time and they were fantastic.  I got the recipe from an episode of Cook’s Country on PBS.  As soon as the segment ended I printed the recipe from the internet and planned to make the tasty tots for dinner that night since we always have potatoes in the house.

When I told my husband I was making homemade tater tots for dinner, he exclaimed, “Yeah, you are!” and high fived me.

Even though tearing open a bag of frozen tater tots and throwing them in the oven doesn’t require much effort, the idea of adding another childhood favorite to my homemade repitoire appealed to me. The several steps necessary to make the tots were straightforward. Once  assembled, I cooked the entire batch in minutes. And I can honestly say homemade tater tots taste way better than the frozen store-bought kind. They are definitely worth the effort.

Homemade Potato Tots, adapted from Cook’s Country
Makes 4 dozen

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups vegetable oil

Whisk 1 cup water and salt together in a liquid measuring cup until the salt dissolves. Pulse the potatoes and salt water in food processor, in batches, until coarsely ground, 10 to 12 pulses, stirring occasionally.

Drain mixture in fine-mesh sieve, pressing the potatoes with rubber spatula to release the liquid (liquid should measure about 1½ cups),  discard the liquid.

Transfer potatoes to a bowl and microwave, uncovered, until dry and sticky, about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

Stir the flour and pepper into the potatoes. Spread the potato mixture in a thin layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 3-inch overhang on each side. Press the potato mixture evenly into the pan.

Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until 375 degrees. Using the foil overhang, lift potatoes from pan and cut into 48 pieces (5 cuts in one direction and 7 in other).

Fry half of the potato tots, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally once they begin to brown. Drain on a wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.

Bring oil back to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining potato tots. Serve.

Make ahead:  Cool fried potato tots and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer the tots to a zipper-lock bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potato tots on rimmed baking sheet and bake until heated through, 12 to 15 minutes.



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