Originally we were going to celebrate Friday the thirteenth, and all sorts of foodie triskaidekaphobias (fear of the number 13), but being aware of the current climate of anxiety and worry, it seems only right to skip ahead to St. Patrick’s Day, and embrace all the comfort that comes with potatoes. Particularly ones we can make at home. Nice, fat, hot, crispy potatoes, emerging from your oven or your cast iron skillet. You can have your chips. Just hold that green beer, please.
Potatoes are a blank page or canvas onto which you can pour your culinary skills or just finesse your desire for salty goodness. You might be able to pipe perfect potato rosettes, or flip Pommes Anna with aplomb. Simply peeling a potato, sitting at the kitchen table, with NPR humming in the background, as you gather your being is an act of empowerment. Take care of yourselves. Remember to be kind. Share the bounty.
We have recently found that a little extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese can pack a delicious wallop. (Please ignore the thumb I grated into the eggs on Mr. Friday’s recent birthday, when I decided to add a little fresh grated cheese. He did say they were extra tasty.) So we have been merrily microplaning parmesan with brio, and abandon, and little skill. We add microplaned parm to chicken cutlets, to give them a crackling crust. We add it to sausage and peppers, for umami, he swears. And now we can add it to our Hand-Formed Parmesan Tater Tots, as discovered by those clever folks at Food52. https://food52.com/recipes/25072-hand-formed-parmesan-tater-tots
This is the stuff of life, the basics: potatoes, garlic, cheese, salt and oil. Add a hamburger, pour a modest glass of red wine and add a little green salad and you could happily survive a few days of working from home.
3 large red potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
2 cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 dash freshly ground sea salt
Olive oil for greasing pan
Preheat oven to 400° F. Scrub the potatoes clean and roast until they are fork tender. Cool them rapidly by plunging them in ice water. Change the water, and repeat, until the potatoes are cool. Shred the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater. Place the other ingredients into the bowl with the grated potatoes and use a fork to fully combine everything. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and rub it with a layer of olive oil. Preheat oven to 425° F. Using about a teaspoon of the potato mixture, form it into a cylinder about 1 inch long. Place on baking sheet and repeat until all the tots are made. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes, turning once about 20 minutes into the cooking time.
From the other coast: These are a little spicier, adding red pepper and paprika into the mixture. Also – is this audacious or lazy- adding crushed potato chips?
San Fransisco Style Garlic Tater Tots
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 cup finely crushed potato chips1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
vegetable oil, for frying
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
Cut large potatoes in half or leave them whole if medium or small. Add potatoes into a large pot of water, bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are just cooked (do not overcook them). Drain potatoes and let cool completely.
Place some potato chips in a gallon size ziplock bag, seal and crush with a rolling pin, until crushed well and measure 1 cup for the recipe.
Coarsely grate the potatoes and mix well with crushed potato chips, salt, pepper powder, garlic powder and paprika, until thoroughly incorporated
(Divide them into 1 1/2 tablespoon measure portions and shape each portion into a 1 – 1 1/2 inch cylinder (the shape of a traditional tot).
Add oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven until it comes to about 1 1/2 inches height up the sides of the pan. Heat over high heat until it reaches 375°F.
Deep fry tots in 2 batches, until each batch is deep golden on all sides (turning them occasionally, 3-4 minutes per batch). Drain them on a paper towel lined plate.
Add 2 tablespoons of the same oil in a small skillet and stir in the garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes. Place the skillet on low heat and cook just until the raw flavor of garlic is gone. Scrape off every last bit of this garlicky goodness over the cooked tots and toss them around.
And while I like a good spicy crunch, I think I am in the Food52 camp. Give me my spuds hot from the oven, without grease splatters all over the kitchen. And it seems unethical to cannibalize potato chips for the sake of crispy tots. (My children find me devoid of humor sometimes, so bear that in mind.)
Go forth and do good this St. Patrick’s Day. Spread the spud cheer, check on your neighbors and be sure everyone is feeling your warm Irish love. Happy Friday the thirteenth, too.
“You must take the little potato with the big potato.”