“We don’t have anything to eat,” he says.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. And let me tell you – with the amount of cooking I do, there is always food in the fridge and pantry. In fact, they are usually so full that it’s hard to fit anything new. So really, it’s not a lack of food. My husband just doesn’t like leftovers.
I like them ok, and I’ll usually have them for lunches during the week. Not my husband.
So what I’m learning to do is repurpose them. I’m not always the best at it, and it is a learning process, but it’s sometimes fun to see what you can create out of the leftovers at the back of the fridge. And sometimes, the leftover creation can be even better than the original dish!
Enter tater tots. Did you know that you could make tater tots at home? You can, with one secret ingredient:
Leftover mashed potatoes.
Yep. No fancy equipment, no fancy techniques. Simply take leftover mashed potatoes – which usually aren’t even good as leftovers because they start to dry out – and turn them into everyone’s favorite fast food treat!
Wanna see how easy they are?
It’s just mashed potatoes, eggs, flour and panko breadcrumbs. I’m guessing most of you have these on hand most of the time. (Minus the mashed potatoes, of course.) Just take the cold mashed potatoes and mix in the eggs and the flour. The mixture will be a little bit sticky, but it should mostly be thick.
I use a regular kitchen spoon and take a dollop of the potato mixture and drop it into my breadcrumbs.
Roll it around to coat it, and then shape it into that recognizable tater tot shape. I shaped all of mine before I even started frying so that I could keep an eye on them while they were cooking. Believe me, you don’t want to get distracted and let any of these burn!
Heat an inch or so of oil (I used vegetable) in a heavy skillet. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature by dropping one of the tater tots in. It should take 2-3 minutes to turn golden brown. Any faster, and the inside won’t cook through. Cook the tots in batches, and then enjoy.
And don’t blame me if you gain about 10 pounds. I made these on a Sunday afternoon when my son and husband were both taking naps, which left my daughter and me faced with a bunch of fresh tater tots. We did some serious damage! I would dare to say that I liked these even better than the ones you can get from fast food restaurants. The texture is different, but they were seriously that good. I will never look at a tater tot the same again!!
Tater tots aren’t just for eating out! Use leftover mashed potatoes to make this homemade version that just may be better than the fast food version!
- 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (cold)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- panko bread crumbs
- vegetable oil (or other frying oil)
- In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, eggs and flour. Stir to combine.
- Drop about a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the panko bread crumbs. Roll to coat. Use your hands to shape into a tater tot shape. Place on a baking sheet or plate. Continue with the remainder of the potatoes.
- Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy duty skillet over medium heat. (If you have a thermometer, you want the oil at about 350F.) Test the oil by dropping one tater tot in the oil. It should take about 2-3 minutes to cook. If it cooks too fast, turn the temperature down. If it takes too long, turn the temperature up. Cook the tots in batches until they are golden brown. Salt immediatley after removing from the oil to drain on a paper towel lined plate.