Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tater Tots

Today, March 31st, is a great day.  Why you ask...? IT'S TATER DAY!!!!! That's right a national food holiday dedicated to my absolute favorite tuber! 

I did a little research hoping to find out the origin of Tater Day, thinking it may have a ties in Ireland or something cool like that... Well, no ties in Ireland BUT it appears it may be linked to a festival back in 1842 in my favorite state, Kentucky!!! The Tater Day festival was started as a celebration of spring and was an event where people would trade sweet potato "slips" (seeds).  It is THE oldest continuous trade day in US History. The festival is a 3 day affair with dates that range from March 28-April 6.  This year the sweet potato focused festival celebrates it's 159th year on March 6th. 

It's no secret that I love potatoes... I mean come on, who doesn't?! Well, I have to admit, I buy a lot of frozen tater tots. But without deep frying them in oil, I can't get them super crispy in the oven. Plus, with all the additives and preservatives, it doesn't make me feel too good about stuffing my face with them! 
So as some of you may know March is "March Madness" here in the US. It's a big college basketball tournament and bars are frequented in order for spectators to be able to catch every game. Which got me thinking... What would happen if you crossed french fries with onion rings? You'd either get onion straws or breaded potatoes... YAHTZEE!!! I found some mini potatoes at the grocery store and knew they could be breaded and BAKED to crispy perfection using a breading technique popular on onion rings! And did I mention, there's no oil?! *unless you want it... But its not necessary.
This is brilliant! With mini potatoes, there is no need to shred or boil them before they are baked into the most perfect, soft and buttery on the inside, SUPER crunchy outside tots! Napoleon Dynamite would be so proud! :-) 
Here's what I used, look at those mini taters!  Using Cajun seasoning adds a sneaky kick!

1 bag mini potatoes (I think it's 1-lb?)
2 cups All Purpose Flour
4 1/2 tsp kosher salt (divided, 2tsp and 2 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (opt. but it definitely adds extra flavor)
1 cup Non-Dairy Milk
1 TBS White Vinegar
1 TBS Egg Replacer Powder (don't add water!!!) 
2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto 2 baking sheets and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, 1 tsp cajun seasoning and 2 teaspoons salt. In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, milk and egg replacer. 

In another bowl (yeah yeah... this isn't a 1 pot meal sorry), combine the panko, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt and teaspoon of cajun seasoning.

Rinse the potatoes in cool water making sure they are completely wet.  Lightly dredge the potatoes in the flour mixture so that every centimeter is covered.  Shake off extra flour and then drop into the milk mix. Roll in panko, pressing to ensure the potato is fully coated.

Arrange on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer with a little space between each potato. Then place in the oven. Cook until golden brown, 14 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip over each potato to ensure even crisping and browning.

Sprinkle with a little extra salt when they come out of the oven and serve. 

**If you'd like to use oil, add 3 TBS olive oil to the panko before coating... Don't want to use that much oil? Spray crusted potatoes with olive oil before putting them in the oven. 

These tots are so ridiculously crunchy! ANNNND best part, if you make lots they can be refrigerated AND reheated in the microwave for a few seconds all while retaining their crispy coating!


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