Recipe: Homemade Tater Tots
Upgrade your tot game with a schmaltzy twist
For National Tater Tot Day, we’re celebrating a school lunch classic with a hearty spin: Lead Chef and Operations Manager, Joshua Resnick, shows us his Schmaltzy Tater Tots recipe.
For those not in the know, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. It was historically used in Ashkenazi Jewish cooking, when communities in Northern Europe lacked access to traditional vegetable oils. Rendering poultry fat was an easy way to create an animal-based cooking oil that aligned with kosher dietary laws.
But why use schmaltz instead of vegetable oil for tater tots? According to Chef Joshua, it all comes down to flavor.
“Vegetable oil is a great neutral oil for frying but it doesn’t add anything flavor-wise,” he says. “Schmaltz, on the other hand, provides a richness to the dish without overpowering the potato flavor.”
Chef Joshua recommends completing the rendering process while preparing your tater tot mixture. You can leave it simmering in the background and check it occasionally to ensure the chicken pieces don’t burn.
The time has come to get you some tots — here's how to make this gourmet snack at home.
Schmaltzy Tater Tots
Yield: 4 side-size servings
For the schmaltz:
- 3 pounds chicken skin
For the tater tots:
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Schmaltz:
- Process chicken skin in a food processor until a paste forms. Transfer to a pot and add enough water to just cover the skin. Place on stove over medium-high heat.
- Once water starts to bubble, stir the mixture and lower the heat to a low simmer. As the mixture cooks, you should see a layer of golden fat cook out of the skin before turning into a milky yellow mixture.
- Allow the pot to cook out until the liquid in the pot is clear, but do not let chicken pieces brown.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot.
For the Tater Tots:
- Prepare the tater tot mixture while schmaltz is rendering. Place cut potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover all the pieces. Add 1/2 tablespoon salt and place over high heat to bring to a boil.
- Once the pot boils, lower to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until a paring knife or cake tester goes in and out without resistance.
- Strain the potatoes and allow to cool until they can be handled. Grate the potatoes on the large side of a box grater into a bowl.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste. Fold in cornstarch until thoroughly mixed.
- To shape, separate the mixture into tablespoon-sized portions and form into a rounded shape with flattened ends. Place the shaped tots on a tray with parchment or wax paper. While shaping, heat schmaltz to 350˚F.
- Once schmaltz is hot, use a spider or slotted spoon to carefully lower the tots into the hot fat. Ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot or each other. Fry until golden brown, then transfer to a bowl.
- Season with salt. Serve hot with your choice of toppings.
More from Chef Joshua: Sephardic Charoset Recipe