BRANCH RECIPE: Salt-and-Vinegar Tater Tots

These tater tots are basically an excuse to eat french fries in a party setting. We’re using what nature gave us — the starch in the potatoes — to bind them together haphazardly; when assembled and fried, each bundle should have the spiky haphazard look of a handful of spaghetti.

BRANCH RECIPE: Salt-and-Vinegar Tater Tots

YIELD: 12 servings
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: mandolin or julienne slicer, steamer, electric deep fryer or oil thermometer

2 medium shallots, peeled
2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons potato starch such as Bob’s Red Mill brand
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 quarts canola oil
1 tablespoon Maldon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar powder

Mince the shallots and place in a small bowl. Cover with warm water and soak for 2 minutes, then strain. Reserve at room temperature.

Peel the potatoes and either cut by hand or use a mandoline or julienne slicer to slice into long strips about 1/8 inch thick (about the width of shoestring fries).

Place the potato strips in a 4-quart stockpot and add enough cold water to cover, or place the potatoes in a steamer basket over a pot of water. Cover and bring to a boil, and cook or steam the potatoes for 2 minutes. The strips will soften slightly but should not cook through.

Strain the potatoes in a colander; they’ll leach some starch and begin sticking together.

Toss the strained potatoes in a large bowl with the reserved shallots, potato starch, salt, and red pepper flakes. While still warm, group the potatoes in little batches, all facing the same way, but in slightly lengths. The average length of each should be about 8 inches—we will be cutting these in half to make 2 pieces later.

Wrap a 2-inch piece of foil around the middle of each bunch and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Freeze for at least an hour. [Note: Potato strips can be frozen up to a week.]

Heat an electric deep fryer or large, high-sided pot filled with the canola oil to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Fry the frozen bundles in batches until golden brown; timing will vary based on your equipment, but should take no longer than 4 minutes.

Remove each fried bundle from the oil with tongs and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cut each bundle in half to make two 4-inch bundles.

Sprinkle each bundle with salt and vinegar powder, and serve immediately.



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TJ Girard is a sought-after food designer and creative consultant, celebrated for staging theatrical, interactive food + beverage experiences. She now resides in California where her creativity is solar powered! TJ writes the Design Milk column called Taste.