Leftover Mashed Potato Tots
Why This Recipe Works
By Sasha Marx
Leftovers are an essential part of the Thanksgiving dinner experience, and we wanted to see if we could push the envelope a little for those of us who tire of turkey sandwiches or reheated facsimile plates of Thursday’s feast. A group brainstorming session led us to the idea of “leftover mashed potato tots.” The majority of tater tot recipes out there are really just potato croquettes in disguise—with bread crumbs trying to fill in for the crispy shredded potatoes that make up the crunchy crust of an authentic tot. We wanted our version to highlight leftover mashed potatoes from T-Day, but had that shredded-potato crunch, too. We solved the issue by peeling, shredding, and blanch-frying some more russets to create an all-potato coating for our mashed centers. Because we didn’t rinse off their natural potato starch before blanching them, the potato shreds adhered to each other after blanching, and we were able to spread them into a sheet (kind of like the rice when making rolled sushi).
The next problem was the consistency of the mashed potatoes: not everyone's Thanksgiving potatoes are the same. So wehad to find a workaround to account for variances in fat content and texture and guarantee crispy tots for all. Those who have made potato croquettes know that fluffy, dry potatoes yield the best fried treats, while loose and overworked potato purées usually end with greasy, gummy blowouts and tears during frying. Instead of turning to flour or eggs to tighten the potatoes up, we busted out the instant mashed potato flakes. By tightening the potatoes with more potatoes we were intensifying the potato flavor rather than diluting it with flour or eggs (though we do have a cornstarch substitute that works well). The now-uniform mashed potatoes then get formed into cylinders, placed on the shredded potato sheet, rolled up, cut into tot-sized pieces, and fried for the ultimate croquette–tater tot mashup.