Thursday, September 12, 2013

Classic Snacks Made From Scratch:Fried And Frozen Treats

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Now I told you I would be back to share a treat with all of you and this time the recipes are dedicated to popular fried and frozen treats.So this includes homemade recipes such as pizza rollsmozzarella sticks,waffle fries,soft pretzels,Jalapeno Poppers and even the big favorite Tatar Tots.So with so many choices like this, how do you choose the first one to test out,especially when they are all great for appetizers,sides dishes,lunches or for just a little snack.For me, it was a fight between Tatar Tots and pizza rolls.However in the end I had an intrigue towards the Tatar Tots recipe. I wanted to know how they would be put together to create their shape and if these would meet their match to the store brand.

So with such popularity, I wanted to learn more about Tatar Tots and how they came about.Well from research, did you know that they were invented in 1953 and were created by the Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg, and Golden Grigg,who were brothers from Ontario ,Oregon.I didn't even know this product went that far back and easily enough the idea began when the brothers wanted to figure out a way to use up their left over slivers of cut up potatoes after making french fries. Originally, they sold french fries and then they came up with a secondary product. They began combining potato slivers,flour,and seasoning,then pushing the mash through a hole and slicing off pieces.From there they created a winning idea out of their first popular salty snack and began selling the product in 1956.So now in 2013,we have many variations that stem from this idea, with generic brands with new names and McCain's Canadian brand. In the end, the original Tatar Tot is still around;however now its owned by the Heinz company,which I think is a great fit, don't you think? See below>>>

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So now that I've got your brain fix-stated on Tatar Tots and we just educated ourselves on the history.Lets begin by breaking down the homemade recipe for Napoleon Dynamite's favorite snack during class.

Now to begin, a very important part to this recipe is the ingredient list. Potatoes are the key point to tater tots and the best choice is russet.They are a baking potato that stay firm and have less water compared to others potatoes.This will help create a crispy outside and fluffier inside.Then for the seasoning mixture we have quite a unique selection of Pecorino Romano cheese and garlic salt as the main flavors.
The cheese is a surprising ingredient to be introduced in this recipe,especially when its a strong age cheese similar to Parmesan. However I am all for trying out something different in flavor and we will see if it pays offs.Then we have the egg as our glue to keep everything together and bread crumbs to create our crispy exterior.However in the end its the deep frying that creates our crispy bite sized tater tots.Ingredients can make or break a recipe.

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Now,this recipe is full of information that is simply lay-out like,which I have said for almost every recipe in Classic Snacks Cookbook.The directions are always pretty simple;however not without it challenges when you actually preform them.In this recipe,I learned with creating the potato mixture, its quite important to use 1 pound of russet potatoes and nothing over that weight because it will effect the texture.So
 when making this recipe be sure to weigh your potatoes with a kitchen scale or the scale at the grocery store if your buying  individually.It will be around 2-3 medium russet potatoes to get the best end result and not 3 large potatoes like I used.

Now the most challenging part of this recipe is the deep frying aspect.If your someone that doesn't have a electric deep fryer like me then it can be a challenge to create your own.However Casey give lots of information on how to make your own homemade fryer as long as your cautious and safe about it.For me, I have always followed Casey's advice since the first recipe I've made with the deep fryer and now I feel a little more confident about it,but its definitely important to always know to give yourself a lot of time and stay patient.In the end,you find out that its really fun to deep fry your own treats and learn how to best fry them to your liking.I definitely recommend everyone to try it out along with any other treat in this cookbook.

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Now on to the best part,the texture and taste test. Did these homemade tater tots meet close to the store bought? Well its really hard to say when I used more then the recommended weight of potatoes,which could of easily effected the texture.So,I cannot review the best of my ability,but I'll try my best.

Firstly, these tater tots have a great crispy and crunchy exterior with a deep golden brown appearance.They definitely have big appeal and need to be eaten almost right away for the best experience.Now biting into the center, I experienced a soft,moist,and stringy texture similar to a hash brown.  At this moment,I knew that to much potato had effected the texture along with the cheese making it more greasy.What I also noticed is shredded potato was used and most likely effected the texture as well.This is a big difference to the original and other store bought versions, when they use mashed potato bits.I don't know if changing the shredded to mashed would change for the better,but following the measurements to the recipe definitely will.I'll be sure to remember this when I make these again.

Now for the taste test, well these homemade versions have a really unique flavor compared to any store bought I have ever tried.These are slightly less salty compared to a store bought version and has more garlic flavor.It also,as an ingredient that is definitely not in any tater tots you can buy, a strong age cheese.Yes, that what I said. Pecorino Romano to be precise,which is a 6 month aged cheese that I feel is similar to Parmesan cheese,but a lot sharper.This cheese is the powerhouse flavor in these tater tots and at times will take over any other flavor ingredient.So its important that you like this cheese because if you don't you won't like these tater tot at all for flavor.

For me,I loved the strong flavor and definitely recommend this homemade recipe for someone that's looking for more flavor compared to the original.Store bought is now quite bland compared to this version;however may not be every one's favorite.Its my favorite for flavor and that's why I want to redo this recipe one day to get the texture just right.

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So since I made a mistake in this recipe that most likely effected the end result in texture. I cannot give the most honest rating for this recipe;however I can say that I do recommend this recipe for simple directions and great flavor.So, go ahead and try out the recipe.Enjoy!

The Recipe

Tatar Tots 

Yield: About 3 dozen tots
Total Time:2 hours,plus cooling time (Tip Varies)
Special Equipment:box grater,electric deep fryer(or large pot and candy/oil thermometer,heatproof tongs r metal skimmer or mesh strainer.


1 pound russet potatoes
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp salt,plus more for seasoning
1 large egg,beaten


1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water,for egg wash
2 cups Panko bread crumbs


Vegetable or canola oil

Prepare The Potatoes 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. 

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Weigh potatoes on a scale to reach 1 pound.Then wash and scrub the potatoes.Then make slices in each potato to help bake.Then wrap each with foil and place in oven to bake for 45+ minutes, until just tender side of being cooked.They are still firm after baking.

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Then unwrap the potatoes and let them cool on a wire rack,until able to peel the skin off with your hands.

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While cooling, Grease and line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper.This is for placing the shape potatoes to freeze.

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 Once the potatoes were cooled and skin was peeled.I grated the potatoes into short and chunky strip,like shreds of grated cheese,with the coarse holes side of the box grater.

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Then in a large bowl using my hands I mixed the grated potatoes with the flour,cheese,garlic salt, salt and beaten egg.

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This mixture should look a little dryer then this when using 1 pound.
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Coating the Potatoes

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Whisked one egg and 1 tbsp of water in a medium bowl to create an egg wash.

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 Then in a medium bowl,add two cups of Panko bread crumbs.

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Then grab about 1 tbsp of potato mixture and shape between palms of my hands to form a cylindrical tater tot shape.

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Then dip the potato mixture in the egg wash and then roll it in the Panko bread crumbs to coat.

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Then place on the prepared baking sheet and repeated these steps, until all the grated potato mixture was gone.The Tatar tots can sit very close to each other on the sheet. 

Once all done,place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour.
 (Tip:Once frozen, the tots can be transferred to a freezer bag and kept frozen for up 3 month)

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 After 1 hour of freezing

Fry The Tatar Tots

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Heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350F in a large,high sided pot,using a candy/deep frying thermometer.(A electric deep fryer can be used as well) While the oil is heating, line a baking sheet with a small kitchen towel and placed a upside down wire cooling rack.The towel will help soak up the oil and the rack will prevent the tater tots from becoming soggy.(Tip:Recipe uses paper towel,but a small kitchen towel works just as well)

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Then add the tater tots in batches and fry them until golden brown.To be cautious, add three or four first to see how fast they will fry and then after fried in larger batches. Now the recipe says that frying time will vary based on the equipment and it mentions that each batch should take no more then 4-5 minutes.

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(Tip: I learned that the important thing is to really watch how the coating changes in golden color.You want a darkish golden brown,not a light golden brown or to dark.The frying time is a guideline and once it hits the right color its time to remove them to cool and some will fry faster then others.)

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Then after each fry, transfer the tots to the lined baking sheet, using heat proof tongs,you can also use a skimmer or strainer and after sprinkled them with salt.Then serve Tatar tots immediately with your favorite sauce.