Originally posted by salindgren
OK, I'm from Dallas, a home for Tater Tots. Yes, Keller's and others have good ones. Now, my question would be: Are the institutional units different from the oven-bake type we're sold? Is there a reason why we can use the oven, but at restaurants they always go in the fryer? I know the ones we buy are sprayed with an oil of some type, so that they will actually work in the oven. What I'm finding today is that even in some of the non-commercial vendors, there are several brands out there now, not just over-priced Ore-Ida. This is good, and extends to all shapes of "french fry" type potato. I buy the largest bags I can find of TTs, crinkle cuts, and steak fries. I don't care for the curly guys, or regular or shoestrings so much. I got tired of dealing with aluminum foil, which can get expensive, but I did discover that if you crinkle the foil first, things don't stick so much. No, here's what I do now. I have a 10 inch saute pan (plain, not teflon), with a metal handle. I load it up with tater tots, and throw it in the oven at 450 degrees. Takes about 30 minutes. What's good about this technique is: I can toss the tots anytime, no stirring or anything. I can pull them out and examine them anytime. I can pour them out of the pan right onto a plate, which I can't do with foil on a sheet. Also, what I'm finding is that if I just dedicate this pan to this task, it just lives in the oven, I have not needed to scrub it, it's just sort of "seasoned" without any nasty black buildup, call me lazy, but it's working.
Last year, I was in a place with no oven, so I fried the things, but I really think I like the oven better. It's easy somehow to over-fry in oil, and I think the baked ones actually taste better, then you don't have to deal with the oil, either. One reason why restaurant fries taste better than what you do at home is a matter of chemistry. Totally fresh oil is not tasty. In restaurants, when they change the oil, they save a few ounces of the old oil, and add it to the new. It's kind of like a starter for sourdough, changes the chemistry of the new oil in a tasty way.
As for dipping sauces, well, I'll stick with ketchup. I like to add regular Tabasco, which Heinz USED to sell, now I have to do it manually. What's more sad is that Ore-Ida quit with the onion tots, but, like I said, I'm finding plenty of cheaper brands out there. Somebody mentioned seasoned salt...That sounds good. Maybe onion powder stirred into the ketchup... Tater tots for grown-ups.
-Scott Lindgren email@example.com