photo by matthew benson
1 lb russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
Canola oil, for deep-frying
1 small yellow or white onion, coarsely chopped
4 oz. fresh cheese curds
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp. potato starch
½ tsp. coarse sea or kosher salt
1. Fill a medium-size bowl with cold water. Peel and rinse the potatoes. Cut them into 2-inch pieces, then submerge in the water.
2. Pour 2 to 3 inches of oil into a wok, Dutch oven, or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 325°F. Use a cotton towel or several paper towels on the counter for drying the potatoes. Set a wire rack on a cookie sheet to drain oil off the partially cooked potatoes.
3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse. Shake to get rid of excess water. Transfer potatoes to the towel and dry well.
4. Divide potatoes into 2 equal portions. Drop a portion gently into the oil. The temperature will drop by 30°F or so. Poach potatoes until they appear pale brown and are a bit soft, about 5 minutes. Lift out immediately with slotted spoon and transfer to the rack to drain. Let the oil return to 325°F and repeat.
5. Let excess oil drip off, put potatoes in medium-size bowl. Cool for 10 minutes.
6. Move potatoes to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape them back into the bowl. Pulse onion and cheese curds in food processor to a similar texture. Add to potatoes. Mix in tarragon, potato starch, and salt.
7. Lay out a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Take heaping teaspoons of the bumpy potato “dough” and shape into mini footballs about 1 inch in length, compressing as you form the shapes. Set on the wax paper. Repeat.
8. Reheat the oil over medium heat to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with several layers of paper towels for draining.
9. Once the oil is ready, gently slide in a handful of the tots; do not crowd the pan. Fry, flipping them occasionally with a slotted spoon, until they are caramel brown and crisp all over, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with the spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat until all the tots are fried. Adjust the heat to keep the oil’s temperature at 375°F. Eat them while they are hot and crispy.
Reprinted with permission from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—and Fried, Too! By Raghavan Iyer, published by Workman Publishing.