Anticipating St. Patrick’s Day later this week, I spent hours this weekend pondering how to celebrate – foodwise, of course. When I asked my husband about my idea for this year, his eyes lit up. Not surprising considering that he named his dog Potatoes and insisted on serving Harp at our wedding. And so, with much laughter along the way, together we developed these beer-coated tater tots.
When it comes to homemade tater tots, there are two basic decisions that you have to make right away: mashed vs. grated and fried vs. baked.
My beloved insisted on grated potatoes, just like the tater tots he ate as a kid. And I decided to bake them because who wants to heat up several inches of oil and make a huge mess just after they cleaned the kitchen earlier that morning? Oh, and then there is the super unhealthy aspect of deep fried anything vs. the less unhealthy prospect of baked potato morsels.
I knew how I wanted these beer-coated tater tots to look and taste.
Amazingly, I was able to get pretty close to my fantasy, with help. The Graceful Kitchen’s recipe for Baked Vegan Beer-Battered Onion Rings (try saying that 3 times fast) provided inspiration for the batter, and Wishful Chef showed me how to make fuss-free grated potato tots.
Tips for making Beer-Coated Tater Tots
- Potatoes – Experts I consulted say that Russet or baking potatoes – the starchiest type – make both the best mashed potatoes and the crispiest latkes. They do hold the cylindrical (or, as my beloved calls it, the “beer barrel”) shape of the tots well. If you prefer Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes, mix in at least one Russet. I haven’t tried red or white, but I suspect that with less starch than either Russet or Yukon, they won’t hold the shape well.
- Grating – After baking, the tater tots soften to an almost-mashed consistency. So if you want the grated texture to remain, use a medium-large (not small) grater.
- Batter/Coating – The liquid batter followed by a crusty coating, two-stage dipping method is similar to that my mom uses for her chicken cutlets. (The chicken cutlets are floured first, but that’s a minor matter.) It’s ok to use your hands, but easier to accomplish if you can fish each tater tot out of the liquid with a spoon or fork. Set out your bowls in a mise en place (organized) way to make beer-coated tater tots in an assembly line – small bowl of beer to wet your hands, grated potatoes, batter (beer + other ingredients), and coating (herbed panko).
- Baking and Freezing – You can bake the tater tots immediately or later. For baking later in the day, just refrigerate them. You can also freeze them on a plate or pan, then once they are hard, toss them in a freezer bag and pull them out at a later date.
Beer-Coated Tater Tots
- 4 Russet potatoes medium-large size (baking potatoes)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup beer
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs crunchy Japanese-style breadcrumbs
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt kosher or coarse sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons extra beer for wetting your hands
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F (if baking immediately.)
Peel the potatoes and cut them in quarters. Place the chunks in a large pot with cold water, bring the water to a boil, and cook the potatoes just until you can pierce a chunk with a fork. Generally it takes only a few minutes after the water comes to a full boil. Do not let the potatoes get soft. Drain the chunks under cold water until you can handle them.
Grate the potato chunks, using a medium-size grater attachment on a food processor or a box grater and set them aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, make the batter and the coating.
For the batter, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and Old Bay in a small-medium bowl. Add the milk and beer, whisking until the batter is well combined. Leave it rest for a few minutes; the batter will thicken slightly during that time.
For the coating, combine the panko, salt, pepper, garlic and paprika in a medium size bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over it and mix it throughout with a fork until the coating is moist.
Set aside the extra beer in a small bowl. Wet your fingers and palm with the beer (to prevent the very starchy grated potato from sticking to your hands), pick up a small handful of grated potatoes (about 2-3 tablespoons), and form the potato shreds into a tater tot, and press it slightly together.
Gently place the tater tot in the batter and roll it around or spoon batter over it. Drain off excess batter and move it to the coating bowl.
Move the tater tot around in the coating until it is completely covered.
Place it on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the grated potato. Keep the tater tots from touching each other on the baking sheet(s), leaving at least 1-inch between them.
Bake the tater tots for 20 minutes if cooked immediately after making, turning them over once at the half-way point. If you prepare the tater tots and refrigerate them (for no more than 1-2 days), bake for slightly longer than 20 minutes. Frozen tater tots can be baked without defrosting; they take about 24 minutes.
Want more ideas for St. Patrick’s Day? Try these:
- Sister Mary’s Soda Bread (an Irish-American tradition in my husband’s family)
- A more authentic Irish soda bread
- Individual Shepherd’s Pie
- Shepherd’s Pie Casserole
- Irish Scones (a copycat recipe from a wonderful Dublin restaurant, the LovinSpoon)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day !!