Whether you make potato tots from scratch or rely on tried-and-true Tater Tot originals, ketchup is often the condiment of choice. Want something more? How about a cheesy dip? Or a spicy chipotle mayonnaise? Or a quick soy-based sauce?
Every tot loves a dip
Before you dismiss Tater Tots and its imitators as another example of 20th-century American food tinkering, consider where tots may actually come from. Asked in an email if there was a classic culinary antecedent for tots, the French-born and trained chef Jacques Pepin replied quickly in the affirmative:
“Certainly potato croquettes (riced cooked potato and egg yolk shaped like corks, balls or disks, breaded and fried) or potato duchesse (the same but no breading and baked) are the ancestors,” wrote Pepin. He pointed curious cooks to “The “Fannie Farmer Cookbook” and other classics for recipes. Bill Daley
Where is Tater Nation?
Ore-Ida’s iconic Tater Tots are sold across North America. But where are those little treats most popular? The west-north-central parts of the United States, according to Max Wetzel, associate marketing director for Ore-Ida.
That means Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Wetzel theorizes this is due to the popularity of the region’s traditional comfort foods, including the Tater Tot-topped casserole that is called “hot dish” in Minnesota. Bill Daley
Chile Con Queso
In “The Texas Cowboy Cookbook,” Rob Walsh recommends serving this dip with tortilla chips. But you can dunk a tot in it, too. Walsh said the dish can be made in a double boiler or microwave, but he also recommends a slow cooker. “You can leave it there for hours, ladling small amounts into serving bowls while the rest stays warm,” he writes.
1 pound processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes with green chiles (such as Ro-Tel)
PLACE the cheese into a slow cooker or double boiler and heat until melted. Stir in tomatoes and chiles. Serve warm.
YIELD: 2 cups.
From “The Oldways Table,” by chef Paul O’Connell of Chez Henri in Cambridge, Mass. The original calls for 1 small can (about 7 ounces) chipotle chiles. We found using just 2 chilies was plenty spicy. Add more as you like.
2 egg yolks
2 crushed cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup each extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 chipotle chiles, or more to taste
1 red onion, finely chopped
COMBINE the egg, egg yolks, garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. With the machine still running, add the olive oil and canola oil in a slow stream; blend until the mixture emulsifies to the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the cilantro and chiles; blend until smooth. Stir in the red onion; serve.
YIELD: About 2 cups.
Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce
From “Asian Dumplings,” by Andrea Nguyen.
1/3 cup light (regular) soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 to 3 tablespoons chili oil (optional)
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely shredded, or 2 cloves garlic, minced
COMBINE the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors for a tart-savory balance. Add chili oil as you like for heat. Right before serving, add the ginger or garlic.
YIELD: About 2/3 cup.
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