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Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet Tater Tots

Pastry chef Claire Saffitz's love for tater tots can't be overstated. Seriously, we tried to overstate it and couldn't come up with anything. The woman loves her tots. But can she take their perfection to a new level? Join Claire in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen as she attempts to make gourmet tater tots. Check out Claire's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/csaffitz/

Released on 05/05/2020

Transcript

Claire has a personal vendetta to settle

with this spoon.

[Claire] Correct.

There's no, she's not doing this for any particular

reason for the episode,

she's just doing--

The spoon's gonna be gone now.

How do I do it?

I would go this way.

[upbeat music]

No!

Ah!

Hey everyone, I'm Claire.

We're in the BA Test Kitchen

and today I'm making gourmet

Tater Tots.

This makes it look like I've already made them

and that's mine, and that's the original.

Because they're on identical plates.

[Producer] That's a wrap.

[chuckles] Right, I'm done.

I don't know of a single person

who doesn't unequivocally love Tater Tots.

Myself included.

It's a perfect food.

What is more delightful in the world

than a Tater Tot?

Of all the Gourmet Makes in history,

there's no difference in enjoyment

when I'm an adult as when I was a kid.

They're still incredible as ever.

First of all, potato.

One of the greatest foods in the world.

So versatile, so delicious.

So satisfying.

And then a Tater Tot might be

one of the finest expressions of potato.

People say Tater Tots to mean all different brands,

but technically Tater Tot is a trademark

of Ore-Ida Potato Company.

A Tater Tot is shredded potato.

I don't really know.

I don't know how they make them.

But they're somehow bound together and fried

in little tiny nuggets.

They're so good.

I mean, they look the same frozen.

So that kind of makes me feel like

in the Tater Tot factory, they're more par-fried.

But they also at the same time hold together so well.

They're also uniform.

They're just so good.

It's like the perfect amount of crispy outside,

crunchy soft kind of creamy inside.

They're just, I really wanna eat some.

Can I go get some ketchup?

I cannot eat these without Heinz ketchup.

I love ketchup so much.

They're perfect.

They're perfect.

It cannot be improved upon.

We should just, everyone take a plate and go home.

What are you doing?

[Claire] Tots.

Tater Tots.

Greatest food ever created.

Yeah, agree.

Like I could probably eat in one sitting

maybe like 45 Tater Tots.

They're so good.

So fascinated.

It's like these weird pebbles

of seemingly like par-steamed potatoes

that then have almost like this slurry around them.

I know.

Whatever the binding is is incredible.

What's more delightful than a fried potato?

Nothing. Nothing.

You're gonna nail this in two days.

Ooh, you think so?

Yeah. All right.

Oh, Tater Tot casserole?

What is the casserole, and then you just put

Tater Tots on top?

I think it's traditionally beef, frozen mixed vegetables,

and cream of mushroom soup,

but then you top it with Tater Tots.

Oh really?

But we could do all scratch.

If you make the filling.

[Sohla] Yeah, I can do that.

Is that a deal?

Yeah. Okay.

Ooh, I love this idea.

So you can see that there are distinct shreds of potato,

and a really thin, even, golden crust.

I think barrel is a good word to describe the shape.

They are kind of cylinders, but the cylinders

actually seem to have a little bit of dimension to them,

like there's sort of a flat side.

It's not a totally round cross-section,

if that makes sense.

I'm gonna clear this off because it's too annoying

to reach around these bags to eat them.

You made these?

No.

We started like five minutes ago.

Oh, I don't know. These are original.

The two plates is throwing every single person off.

Here's what's so wonderful about Tots.

There's a whole world inside.

There's a lot of textural variants.

Yes. On the inside of the Tot.

You know I go look for Tots almost every day.

Daily. In the cafeteria.

Mm-hmm.

Potatoes are fascinating.

They're so cool.

So weird. I know.

Tots.

I'm gonna take some measurements.

The length is three centimeters.

The diameter in one direction is 2.1 centimeters.

So we're just gonna call it two centimeters.

Um.

That's it.

That's the only dimensions, right?

I wanna try taking one apart

and separating out some of the pieces

to get an idea of particle size.

There's pieces like this that are a larger piece

and then there's also this size,

which is much, much smaller.

I feel like the pieces are shaggy

so that they're not smooth,

like if you were to look at this up close

it would have a very irregular texture.

You can sort of see that there's a coating.

The coating, it is a very sealed exterior.

Time for my favorite part, reading the ingredients.

Potatoes, vegetable oil blend, soybean and cottonseed,

salt, yellow corn flour, dextrose, sodium acid,

pyrophosphate, parenthesis to retain natural color

closed parenthesis, dehydrated onion,

sodium acid sulfate, natural flavor.

All right, there's a lot of interesting stuff there.

It's fascinating to me that there are things

that I've never heard of

that we haven't yet seen in Gourmet Makes.

We've never had any kind of compound

start with the prefix pyro.

It's to retain the color.

Potatoes, when you grate them,

I think it's an enzyme.

There's an enzyme in them that immediately makes them

start to turn brown, so makes sense that they're

putting something in here to prevent browning.

I would love to find out more about how they're made.

We're gonna go over to the computer

and do a little bit of research.

Go long, Dan.

No, I'm just kidding.

No, no don't.

No don't.

I'm gonna hit the light.

[Dan] Let's do it.

[Man] Do it!

[laughing] That's too close to the computer.

What if I hit the light?

No, don't!

I thought you were throwing it back at me.

What?

[Man] Nice.

[Claire] [laughing] Is the internet not working?

Oh.

[Man] Oh, you need that.

Wifi.

There we go.

Tater Tots, or just Tots, created in 1953

when Ora-Ida founders were trying to figure out

what to do with leftover slivers of cut up potatoes.

They chopped up the slivers, okay chopped,

added flour and seasoning, then pushed the mash

through holes and sliced off

pieces of the extruded mixture, thus Tots were born.

All right.

I mean, that pretty much tells me how it's made.

[Announcer] Tater Tots have appeared on the menus

of some of the finest restaurants in the country.

[Claire] Oh, look at those.

[Announcer] Like Chef David Kinch's

three Michelin star-rated Manresa

in Los Gatos California. Manresa.

I'm making fancy Tater Tots.

Sometimes they're called pommes paillasson.

Okay, so that's David Kinch, famous chef.

And that is the potato preparation

that I was gonna make.

He said pommes paillasson, I think

and I don't really know how to spell that

so I'll have to do some research.

But this is, this is good stuff right here.

Okay, paillasson that's what he's saying.

David Kinch, pommes paillasson.

So let's see this.

[upbeat music]

Sorry, that's really loud.

The fancy name is pommes paillasson.

It'll remind you of Tater Tots.

For this I'm just using regular russet potatoes.

[Dan] This feels like cheating.

The next thing I'm gonna do

is grate the potatoes. Oh well.

So he is poaching raw potato in duck fat.

And then the starches are coming out

so that they get that gummy texture.

Pommes paillasson.

Tater Tots on steroids.

Some people say that that was cheating,

but I don't think so.

I like the idea of approaching Tater Tots

using sort of a classic method

based on sound potato cookery.

If that works, I think it could be a really neat way

to recreate a classic Ora-Ida Tater Tot.

[Dan] Are you gonna feel refreshed

when you get back from vacation?

I'm going on vacation.

I'm hoping to come back not sleep deprived,

having read several books, having not looked at my phone

or computer for a week, and just

completely born again.

[upbeat music]

Vacation's so great.

I hadn't taken a vacation in so long.

You know, you have to really make it a priority,

a vacation, otherwise you'll never do it.

That was my problem.

I feel great.

I wanna go back.

Take me back.

I remember where we left off.

So I can kind of get started right away.

[upbeat music]

I'm gonna go for it, I think.

The whole way through.

David Kinch cooked his potatoes in duck fat.

I'm just gonna use oil.

The potatoes are in water

because that prevents oxidation

so they don't brown.

And Rhoda's helping me put together the shredder

on the food processor.

There we go.

I'm only using oversized kitchen tools today, I've decided.

Does it make me look very small

because it's so big?

So this is, you take the blade out

and it has this little connector piece

that goes down where the blade connects

and this disc spins, and it's a really super fast shredder.

By the way, I feel like I should say something

about potatoes, which are that potatoes are

one of my favorite foods,

and in fact, in my mind, one of the most amazing

ingredients you could possibly work with.

So I think after I shred them, I'm going to pulse them

with the blade in the food processor to break them up

a little bit and leave some larger,

and then get some into smaller, finer bits.

They're amazing.

And they're so delicious.

And they get crispy, and they're creamy,

and fluffy, you can puree them, you can fry them,

you can roast them.

They're so good.

I'm gonna put the potatoes directly into the oil

so they don't continue to oxidize.

Maybe a tiny bit of garlic

to make it a little more savory.

Okay, so I'm gonna go grab some rosemary

because it tastes so good.

I think that actually that particle size

looks pretty good.

I'm not really basing that on any

actual firsthand knowledge.

Okay, so I'm gonna get this on the burner.

French fried potatoes, roasted potatoes,

boiled potatoes, I love a boiled potato so much.

It doesn't look like much, but things are happening.

There's little kind of slow, fine bubbles happening

all around, and the texture of the potatoes is changing.

You can see that they're going translucent.

The French really do great things with potatoes.

They do pommes Boulanger.

that's a classic one.

And what I remember from the video

is that I do want to actually fully cook the potato.

I maybe just want it to have the tiniest hint

of that kind of raw starchy texture.

I kind of feel like maybe it's almost done.

There's roasted potatoes, there's boiled potatoes,

which I love, boiled potatoes,

parsley potatoes, just like peeled, boiled,

creamy potatoes, with butter and parsley and salt.

It's so good.

Baked potato, French fries.

I'm gonna check on the done-ness of the potatoes.

It is super gummy.

Considering there was no salt, tastes pretty good.

You can see how they are clumping together

because they are just so sticky.

In fact, much stickier than I imagined they would be.

Are you gonna try and introduce another dip

to the equation?

I hadn't thought about it actually.

Oh, you know what is amazing?

There's this place in Philly called Chickie & Pete's.

Uh-huh.

And they do crab fries,

but they do it with a white cheese dipping sauce

that's like American cheese, cheddar,

and maybe Monterey Jack.

I don't want to speak for them.

Okay.

I don't know what their proprietary blend is.

Okay.

But it's so good.

Will you look into it-- I'll look into it.

And tell me what's in it? Yeah.

Okay.

Thanks Delaney.

Okay, these are gonna continue to drain.

They've already released a fair amount of oil.

And in the meantime, I'm gonna pluck out

the garlic and stuff.

The garlic is just there for flavoring the oil.

It's not gonna be in the Tots.

Claire.

Oh, what's in it?

In the 45 seconds since I've last seen you.

Uh-huh.

I've just read an article about how this person

went on a mission to find out what the cheese sauce was.

It's just American cheese and water to thin it out.

What?

Melted American cheese and water.

Wow.

Love a recipe like that.

It's one ingredient.

Ooh, like look at it.

It's all just one big ball of sticky potato.

[Dan] Looks like you made a big matzo ball.

[Claire laughs]

Wow, I thought it was gonna be maybe a challenge

to get it to hold, but it's really so sticky.

I don't want to shock anyone with the amount of salt

that I'm gonna use, but I wanna be generous.

Oh my god, that already looks like a Tater Tot.

I'm excited.

I'm excited too.

They got me some beef.

We're gonna make casserole.

What kind of casserole?

Tater Tot casserole.

Oh my god, that kind of casserole.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Okay.

Okay, cool. [Sohla laughs]

You're gonna be ready before the beef.

This is gonna be a one day Gourmet Makes.

Sohla, you're gonna jinx it.

No, man. Oh my god.

Well you can say it.

I can't say it.

It's basically perfect already.

Dan, did you get a good look in here?

Oh, thanks.

I'm gonna cut this into a grid

and then I'll have little rectangles.

I'll just have to wait and see what the texture's like

after they chill.

This is gonna go into the fridge.

Ooh.

Just shocked myself.

So I'm working on my job

while also trying to make some Tater Tot casserole.

I've got some short ribs over here.

I'm gonna sear it in here

and then de-glaze with some beer.

It's gonna get a bunch of cremini mushrooms.

So these guys are gonna sear up, get nice and brown.

Traditionally, Tater Tot casserole

is cream of mushroom soup and ground beef,

so we're stepping it up a little.

It's gourmet Tater Tot casserole.

The mixture is cool,

I would say it's cooled.

It's super firm.

One thing that I'm not totally pleased about

is the color, because the inside of a Tot

is pretty bright white, and these potatoes

have started to take on a gray tone.

I kind of thought after coming out of the oil,

they would all be so coated

that they weren't gonna further oxidize,

but it seems like they are.

Really never seen anything like it.

It's really neat.

It kind of has like a wobble,

and it's really solid.

Like, it springs back.

I'm wondering if I'm gonna have a hard time forming it,

but let's see.

I'm gonna cut it into a grid,

roughly Tater Tot size.

It seems like I'll get a pretty even number

out of all of these.

Now that I've cut it into portions,

I'll weigh each portion, and then I'll have

an easier time forming them, because it'll all be uniform.

[jazzy drumming music]

Just feel like there's gotta be a quicker way

to get these into nice, even cylinders.

It's still not quite long enough.

[Gaby] What is that?

What? That's potato?

It's potato.

The color's--

[Claire] Yeah, I know.

It's not really enticing.

I wonder what they put those to keep them.

Oh, it's sodium acid pyrophosphate.

Sure, I have some in my pocket.

Why don't you use it?

Yeah.

Every kitchen has some of that.

I'm sure they're delicious.

Look, I'm just gonna get through this test,

I'll deal with the color later.

I need a form.

This is annoying.

I don't want to do this anymore.

I don't know what I'm looking for.

I'm just trying to see what we have

to spark some kind of an idea.

I'm hungry.

I think it's time for lunch.

Do we have funnels? Funnels?

[Claire] Yeah.

I do.

[Claire] I won't destroy it.

Okay.

[gasps]

Can I-- Yes, yes, yes.

Can I hold onto it for a second?

But don't destroy it, right?

No, I promise. Right?

I promise. Okay.

I think that's a good size.

The only thing is I wish it was more cylindrical.

It's kind of tapered.

I also do kind of want to destroy it

even though I just told Gaby I wouldn't.

[Gaby] What about a cookie cutter?

Yes.

Why didn't I think about that?

[Gaby] I don't know, because you want to make it.

I want to make it hard?

[Gaby] You wanted to make it real, yes.

[jazzy music]

I just thought of something.

[Claire] What?

[Gaby] An apple corer.

Gaby, you're so smart.

[Gaby] Sometimes.

No, all the time.

Truly.

I'm gonna test if this is the right size.

It's a little bit narrow,

but I think it's gonna work.

I think this is like kind of perfect.

So I'm gonna go back to the pieces that I already formed.

I wish that I had some kind of piston

to push it through.

Gaby, where'd you put the other one?

Okay, thank you.

I wanted to, I have, this is,

I need to destroy this.

[jazzy music]

Oh no, I don't think it's gonna work.

Just bend it back and pretend like nothing ever happened.

No one say anything.

It's fine.

[Gaby] Did it work?

No, it's okay.

Don't tell anyone.

Oh, I have an idea.

I already used this once today.

Let me just see if I can do this

without sawing off a piece.

No, I can't quite.

I need the saw.

Gaby, do we have a handsaw?

Oh wait, we have all this new equipment we got!

Oh my god, Claire you weren't here.

Come!

Ta-da! Whoa!

[Gaby] One day every brand sent us so much stuff.

Wow. We can build a house.

If anyone's watching who's in the tool industry,

we need new tools.

Look at this thing.

This thing's older than Claire.

Look at this battery.

They don't even make this thing anymore.

Why isn't this going on?

I broke it.

[sighs]

What's happening here.

A-ha.

Okay.

Oh, hi.

What up?

Delaney, I need your help.

Well, I need your help.

Really?

With what? Yeah.

Well, I was just gonna ask you

what you thought of this.

Oh my god, that sounds fun.

I'll try it.

[Dan] Yeah, definitely get intoxicated

before using the saw.

[Claire laughing]

Perfect.

It's a shandy.

Oh, it's basically water.

Okay, it's delightful.

I want more lime.

Okay, cool.

Wait, don't go anywhere.

I'm not, I'm just gonna put it over here.

Okay.

So I'm gonna tighten this,

and then clamp.

Just keep going.

There has to be a better way to do that.

I'm a lefty, by the way.

Oh my god, this is gonna be so easy.

Okay.

Ah!

Ah!

That was so fun and easy.

It's so fun.

Let's just cut some more (beeping right?

I think this is like my thing now.

Now that I tightened this, how do I get it off?

You just spin it the other way.

I know, but it's like really--

You got it.

I got it, I got it. There's a rhyme about it.

No, I know but here's the thing.

I've said this many times.

It goes in a circle.

There's no left or right.

It's clockwise counterclockwise.

[laughing] Thank you.

Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

I know.

I never understood that, to be honest.

What do you mean?

It's like the best thing ever.

[laughing] I don't-- Righty tighty.

I don't want this on the camera.

Spin it right. But wait--

If I'm turning this to my left,

that's your right.

But start from there.

Start from there.

Right, which is your left,

but I'm saying no one would ever start

from the bottom.

But I'm saying that I would.

You know, Claire.

You do a lot of things that other people might not do.

So you form them in here, right?

Okay.

And you give it like a little

tamp, tamp, tamp.

And then.

It's brilliant.

Brilliant is subjective in this situation.

But you agree.

Yes.

Right.

[jazzy music]

This gets loaded into,

press, press, press,

and then I'm gonna just keep forming,

one at a time, in a little bit

of an assembly line.

Oh my god, that worked out perfect!

I know!

What?

[jazzy music]

The oil's at 340.

I'm gonna do have of this batch, no coating.

Just gonna drop these guys in.

Aye-aye-aye, they're all sticking to the bottom.

Oh, they stuck so bad.

Are they all just falling apart now?

Oh my god, they're sticking to each other.

They're sticking to the spoon.

These have completely fused together

into one Frankentot.

Okay, problem number one.

They are so sticky that they stick

to the bottom of the pot, and they stick to each other.

So that's not great.

Two, they are getting kind of grayer by the minute.

That's not super appealing.

Three is getting kind of craggy.

And then it's getting really nice crispy bits,

but they're just kind of like not getting

as uniformly golden.

Although I guess Tater Tots themselves

aren't super uniform either.

But that's why I feel like I'm gonna need

some kind of a coating.

I think it will help to seal the potato.

The potato gets really crispy,

but it retains some of that gumminess in the Tot

that's not totally appealing.

One positive thing is that it has distinct bits

which you can see.

They just need to be less gummy.

I'm wondering if I worked the mixture too much.

So I'm gonna take a little potato starch

and dust some of the Tots in the potato starch

to kind of seal everything.

I'm not quite sure how much to add.

I might have to drop them in one at a time

and keep them moving until they're set on the outside.

[Dan] Can I say something without you getting offended?

[Claire] What?

There was an unpleasant aftertaste

in the one I had.

What's the aftertaste?

[Dan] My tongue feels dry.

[Man] Yeah, I need a lot of water.

[Dan] I think I'm dying.

[all laughing]

Did I poison you guys?

Did I mean to?

Maybe not.

Maybe I did.

So I'm just kind of agitating it.

Really hoping that it doesn't fall apart.

Actually it does seem to be much less sticky.

Oh, they stuck together.

[giggles]

Oh no.

I'm gonna take this guy out.

This was the first one I added.

You can see that the surface itself

is rather pale, and that the ends are super golden.

This seems like an improvement if they're less sticky

and they're holding their shape.

They look like perfect little cylinders.

This guy looks great.

Look at the Tots!

They're so cute.

They held together extremely well.

The surface stayed smooth.

They seem very crispy.

Mm.

I think I'm really on the right track

with the potato starch on the outside.

The two main issues now are color and texture

of the potato and the interior.

And I have some thoughts about that.

Wait, I'm so worried about this aftertaste.

[Dan] Yeah, you gotta taste one of these.

The crew ate the first batch,

and apparently there was a lot of talk

about having an issue with dry mouth afterwards.

And I'm a little freaked out by it.

I mean, I just ate one and we'll see.

I think it's that I worked that potato mixture so much.

There's just so much starch that was released

from the potatoes that, like,

that starch in your mouth is,

I don't really know what's happening,

but I think it's giving everyone

that very uncomfortable dry mouth effect.

Here's my plan.

Because I want a mixture that has a fluffier

potato texture, and not so much gumminess,

I'm gonna do the same thing, but only with half

the amount of potatoes, and then substitute in

the other half with like a boiled, grated potato

to get some of that fluffy texture in

and hopefully get a best of both worlds mix.

I don't know if I have to poke holes if I'm boiling,

but I'll just poke a couple.

These potatoes are done.

They're basically fully cooked all the way through.

These are gonna go into the fridge overnight,

and then in the morning, I'm going to grate them

and do that whole oil poaching step again

with fresh potatoes.

I have a relatively high level of confidence

that the next batch, given the learning from today,

will be successful.

[upbeat jazzy music]

I guess the first thing I'll do is grate the potato

that I cooked yesterday that's in the fridge

and is cold.

No, no.

Not while I'm holding coffee.

Okay.

All right.

[jazzy music]

These are the potatoes I boiled yesterday until tender,

and they chilled overnight.

They're very firm, even though they're cooked

all the way through.

Oops.

Looks like grated cheese.

The shreds yesterday were kind of translucent

and these are opaque, and you can see

they're really fluffy.

I'm gonna do the same thing I did yesterday

which is just pulse the shreds.

And I'm going to keep this mixture separate

from the poached mixture, and then I'll add them together

to kind of get the consistency that I want.

I will set this aside.

Now I'm gonna move onto the poached, shredded potato,

and I have oil there from yesterday that was strained.

I'm gonna add more oil to it,

and also add aromatics.

Oh, Dan.

Oh my god, Dan.

No, it fell on the floor.

It rolled under it.

Can I have another one.

Thank you.

I love peeling potato.

Ow!

I have not touched one thing in this kitchen

over the last two days that has not shocked me.

That's so annoying.

There's some weird current.

Ow!

[groans]

[all laughing]

God, everything's metal.

The goal here is to reduce enzymatic browning

that happens when you cut raw potato.

And so I'm going to add ice cubes and white vinegar,

because colder water and acidulated water

will help prevent that from happening.

All right, so these shreds are gonna immediately

go back in the water,

because they'll start browning immediately.

I'm gonna transfer about half of this mixture

to the food processor.

And the next step will be

wringing out the potato and transferring it

to the oil immediately.

And this is a method for making potato latkes.

I don't know why I didn't do this yesterday.

But you squeeze out as much of the moisture

from the potatoes as possible,

and it just increases crispiness

and improves texture also.

And then you'll see,

so I have much, much drier pieces.

And now directly into the oil.

So theoretically it should not brown.

Before I get these on the stove,

I'm gonna do one quick step,

which is pour off a lot of this water

and then strain it to get any potato bits out,

and then I'm gonna let this mixture sit and settle

because there's a ton of starch in this bowl,

and then when it comes time to mix the potato mixture

for the filing, I'm gonna add the starch back in.

That will help bind everything.

I decided that I should look up the actual recipe

of pommes paillasson that I watched the video

of David Kinch demonstrating.

And I'm glad I did, because it had some important

information I ignored the first time.

The first piece of information is that the oil

should be right around 200 Fahrenheit,

so you can see, I've kept it within a couple degrees

on either side of 200.

The other piece of information was that

the potato should be fully cooked almost to the point

of falling apart.

I fell short of that end point yesterday.

So I'm just gonna give these a taste.

These have been in here for a little while.

I feel like they're fully cooked.

Now I'm gonna get these out of the oil.

I think it looks less gray than yesterday.

So now I'm gonna season them generously,

and this one is poached in oil

and then this one is grated boiled potato

and I'm going to eyeball it until I get something

that looks like a good mix that still binds to itself,

and I can also add some of this potato starch

to the mixture as well.

I'm kind of starting with something

that looks a little 50-50.

This is like basically a slurry,

a starch slurry.

I actually get a lot of the rosemary garlic.

It's pretty tasty.

All right, back into the fridge

until this is actually nice and cold

and has a chance to just set.

I'm going to turn my oil on and get up to 350,

and then I'm going to form maybe three or four Tots.

Oh my god, I love them.

Throw them into the oil,

see what happens.

I feel like they're done.

[Alex] They do look a little ghostly on the outsid.e

Oh, just say good things.

They look like beautiful ghosts.

They look like little beautiful nuggets.

Look at how similar they are in size.

Don't they look good?

Pretty damn close.

Hot. Hot.

I actually really taste rosemary.

It's like a lot of rosemary.

Too salty?

I don't know about too salty,

but the rosemary is pretty overpowering.

Overpowering?

I don't know if, It's a lot.

Delaney.

That's not the answer I was looking for.

This was one of those--

It really tastes like rosemary.

You nailed it, don't change anything.

That's more of what I was going for.

What's in there?

Garlic and rosemary.

Too much?

No!

You guys.

[Alex] It's too much rosemary.

No!

[emotional piano music]

I actually get a lot of the rosemary garlic.

It's pretty tasty.

[Sohla] You're millimeters away from perfection!

[Alex] You're on the doorstep.

[Sohla] You can't stop now.

But I just really,

I really don't want to re-poach the potatoes.

It takes so long.

Perfection takes as long as it takes.

Edit it all out.

Could we lie to people, say you did it again.

[giggling]

Is there like anything else going on there?

Why, what do you want?

You want--

No, there's a flavor, an aftertaste,

that I don't enjoy.

[Claire] Actually, can I just say something?

I--

[Claire] Oh.

Was gonna say something else about that, too.

But maybe I won't.

What is the aftertaste? What, no you can't.

Wait, now you have to-- It's like almost fishy?

[emotional piano music]

What is that from?

[Alex] What is the fishiness?

[Sohla] Oh, it's the fryer oil.

Oh it's, it's--

[Alex] It might be the oil.

Yeah, it's canola.

[Sohla] Canola gets weird.

[Alex] Yeah.

All right.

And I'm reusing it from yesterday.

That's what it is.

Okay.

I'll switch, I'll do fresh oil.

Delaney, I just want,

I want you to make that cheese sauce.

Yes!

[Claire] Sauce you told me about yesterday.

I don't know if I have time to do it today, though.

I think you have time.

If American cheese is in the test kitchen,

I will absolutely make it.

Okay.

[Sohla] I'll prepare my casserole base.

Oh, right.

Oh damn, okay.

I forgot about that.

I can't believe I forgot.

Tater Tot casserole!

Claire! I know.

I've been working on it-- I'm sorry.

For days!

But Sohla, can you tell me how many I'm gonna need?

What is that? It's however--

I don't think I agree with him about the rosemary.

I have an idea though.

If I get shocked by this, I'll be really upset.

Ah.

God.

Damn it.

Only the oil poached has the rosemary flavor

added to it, so my idea is just to add

more of the boiled potato,

which has that fluffier, nicer texture anyway.

And my hope is just that it continues to bind

and be formable.

[jazzy drumming music]

I also refreshed the oil over there.

So far it seems to be holding together well.

I feel a little relieved.

I'm just gonna form them until

the oil is ready, I guess.

And I'm going to do a lighter coating of potato starch.

Oh, well.

I thought I was going to.

Take them out.

[Dan] Best ones yet?

So here are the Tots.

I think that this is the best batch yet.

Also, one thing we haven't remarked upon,

they're not gray, which is good.

I feel very good about this.

I feel good about

one, the density,

sort of how tightly packed

the potato particles are.

Two, the presence of discrete potato bits,

three, the different sizes of the discrete

bits of potato bits,

and four, the amount of coating

on the outside of the Tot.

Mm, very tender.

In my mind, it's not the least bit overpoweringly rosemary.

In fact, I don't think you would know it was there.

Oh, Sohla.

You don't get a lot of the rosemary.

Better, right?

It's a Tot.

What happened is what usually happens,

which is, I'm glad that I made it again.

Thank you for pushing me to do that.

I think this is the final version.

I'm happy with basically every aspect of it.

I'm gonna just keep forming and frying in batches

until I've made some critical mass of Tater Tots.

What's your plan?

You're doing a full bag?

I'm gonna go with as many as it takes

until I finish today.

[jazzy music]

Thanks to Sohla's help and encouraging words

we actually portioned and formed the full potato mixture.

This guy was hidden behind the thermometer.

Got a little dark.

Took on a little bit of color,

took it pretty far.

I'm gonna put these in the freezer, uncovered,

and then before I leave tonight I will cover them

because I don't want to trap any amount of steam

that's left in these, because it will create

a soggy texture.

I don't believe in making homemade ketchup

because Heinz is perfect.

But I will make a homemade mayo

even though there's lots of great store-bought mayo also.

Delaney's gonna do cheese sauce.

I can do a buffalo sauce.

[jazzy music]

But I'm just making kind of a traditional mayonnaise

with egg yolk, oil,

and then I'll add a little garlic and lemon

to season it.

It is absolutely delicious.

We'll come back tomorrow.

I feel like it'll be smooth sailing

from here on out.

I made like a lot of Tater Tots.

So I would consider this successful.

[jazzy music]

Oh my god, casserole.

I forgot about casserole.

Sohla?

Casserole.

Is it happening?

Yeah.

How much time do you need?

I'm ready. You're ready?

All right, so Sohla's gonna do casserole.

I'm going to cook the remaining Tater Tots two ways,

one baked, one deep fried,

and then we're gonna dip and taste,

and then we go home,

because today's Friday.

Right?

[Dan] No.

I might make a little buffalo dipping sauce

which is just Frank's Red Hot,

and butter.

Oh, I knew that was coming.

Okay.

Maybe I'll work on the one-handed catch going forward.

You know?

Advanced skills.

[jazzy drumming music]

I have one stick of butter which is a half cup,

a half cup of Frank's.

To my knowledge, buffalo sauce is just

those two things mixed together,

so that's what I'm gonna do.

Oh, it smells so good.

Does it smell so good?

Oh, you got a haircut!

This morning. Wow.

Literally like half an hour ago.

You look great.

You got a job to do.

I know, I'm gonna make my cheese sauce.

[Claire] Okay, great.

It's just white American cheese.

Cutting it into roughly inch and a half

by inch and a half cubes.

We're gonna start with eight ounces

and see if the water to cheese ratio works.

The water looks, let's put it one way, gross.

Ah, it's getting pretty white.

Old cheese water.

It smells like cheese.

That's all that it smells like

[Claire] That looks so good.

It looks really good.

[Claire] Good consistency.

[Alex] And the consistency now is nice, yeah.

[Claire] Yeah.

[Alex] Needs a little bit of salt,

little bit of garlic.

Oh my god, it looks so good.

[Sohla] You can taste it.

All right, can I-- Oh yeah.

Can I grab this?

Okay.

[Alex] That is so good, Sohla.

[Claire] When did Sohla even make this?

I don't know.

Sohla hasn't slept in 18 days.

Yeah, seriously.

All right, so I'm gonna fill this guy.

So this is Sohla's short rib and mushroom casserole

a la stroganoff.

Can we get a bag of Tots?

Delaney, he's gonna throw it at you.

We'll do the skillet with Ora-Ida,

and we're gonna do the baking dish with homemade.

My vision is neat rows.

Oh well.

Wow.

Really nice work.

I really like how this one,

it's like a full collaboration.

Yeah.

I did just as much work as Claire.

Excellent.

Now I'm gonna deep fry, and we're gonna taste

just the Tots on their own.

[jazzy drumming music]

They look great.

They look like they got super crispy.

And now I'm gonna pour out my dipping sauces.

I'm gonna start with ketchup.

Then buffalo.

Aioli.

Delaney, you ready there with the cheese?

Oh, that looks so good.

What's in it?

Water and American cheese.

You really are a Philly guy, aren't you?

Little bit of garlic powder, little bit of salt.

The garlic powder makes it gourmet.

Yeah. Yeah.

All right, ready guys?

I'm gonna try it with aioli.

Cool.

Are you gonna do cheese sauce?

Yeah, I feel like--

Okay. Can I do aioli as well?

Yeah, we can do both.

I mean, we can try multiple.

Claire, those.

Those are very good.

They're really soft on the inside.

[Andy] I like that they don't fall apart

like typical Tater Tots.

[Claire] What a lovely interior.

Fluffy, right?

And not dense, like not so compact.

I'm not even gonna try it, I'm sorry.

American cheese is not my thing.

[laughing]

But it's really good.

But like, I only want to eat one of it.

The ketchup is so good.

I know, I love the ketchup.

Sue.

You wanna try a Tater Tot?

Ooh! Yeah, okay.

Classic. Yup.

Oh.

Yeah, Claire.

Tater Tot.

Like Ore-Ida.

Oh my god, Amiel's here?

This is the best day ever.

Amiel.

We made Tater Tots for out Valentine's Day.

Oh, these look perfect!

When you say you made Tater Tots,

what do you mean?

Well, we like purchased them.

Oh.

Nailed it.

Thank you.

Do you want any of the dipping sauces?

Of course I want the dipping sauces.

Claire, also they're looking pretty close over here.

Okay, let's pull those.

Oh my god.

[Alex] Oh, mama!

[Amiel] I cannot believe this.

[Claire] Sohla made the filling.

We can't take credit.

[Sohla] That's like, you gotta decorate with ketchup.

[Claire] Oh man.

[Amiel] The shape of these is so perfect and so uniform.

[Claire] Sohla, I think you should do the honors.

[Sohla] Oh boy, how's that?

This looks and smells

so good. So good.

Unbelievable.

Is it insanely hot still?

No.

The filling is delicious.

Mm! Mm.

We did it!

Mm.

Mm. Mm!

I'm gonna have some ketchup.

This I feel like is an appropriate serving size.

Yeah.

[all laughing]

It's very rich.

Very delicious.

Ah.

Thanks Sohla, you really.

Let's collab on every single other Gourmet Makes after this.

Would anyone like to try?

Casserole. The Tots?

Oh. The casserole?

Oh my god.

Pretty good, right?

So good.

It's really good.

This one was fun.

I should just work with Sohla on every single project.

You're done!

It's like beef stroganoff meets shepherd's pie.

Uh-huh. Yeah.

Meets Tater Tots.

I'm gonna steal one. Cheese sauce, this is aioli?

[Claire] Yeah.

Hell yeah.

I like how brown these guys.

Alex, thanks for your help on this.

Hey, you're welcome.

It was fun, right?

It was a lot of fun.

Tater Tots was a really fun episode.

I like working with a raw ingredient like potato.

Potatoes are amazing.

I love potatoes.

This is a summary of the last four days.

It's nice when skills in Gourmet Makes

are kind of generalizable

and have applications outside of just the episode.

I wouldn't necessarily sit there

and form these Tater Tots again,

but I would definitely make Sohla's Tater Tot casserole

again for sure.

It's delicious.

[jazzy music]

Here's how you make gourmet Tater Tots.

Scrub and prick two medium russet potatoes all over.

Cook in a large pot of boiling water

just until firm but tender.

Remove the potatoes from the water

and let cool completely in the refrigerator.

Peel the potatoes and pass through the large shredding disc

of the food processor.

Working in batches, pulse the shredded potato

with the blade of the food processor

to break up the shreds.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl

and set aside.

Peel two medium russet potatoes and hold in a large bowl

of ice water spiked with two tablespoons

of distilled white vinegar.

Working one potato at a time,

shred in the food processor

and transfer the shredded potato

back into the bowl of acidulated water.

Switch to the blade, and working in batches

pulse the raw shredded potato to break up the shreds.

Transfer back to the water.

Using a spider, transfer the raw potato

in small batches to a clean kitchen towel.

Fold up the ends and wring out the potato

as firmly as possible to squeeze out the water

transfer the dry shreds to a large saucepan

filled halfway with vegetable oil.

Add a few garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary

to the oil and set the saucepan over medium low heat.

Cook the potatoes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit

stirring often until the shreds are tender

and almost falling apart,

then drain immediately and allow all the excess oil

to drip off.

Pluck out the garlic and rosemary and discard.

Scatter the shreds on a lined baking sheet,

cover loosely, and chill until cold.

When the poached potato is cold, make a 50-50 mixture

of the poached and boiled shredded potato.

Pour of the acidulated water until all that's left

is the thick potato starch that's settled to the bottom

and add the starch back to the potato mixture.

Season the mixture with salt.

Divide the mixture into six gram portions.

Pack the portions into the end of an apple corer

and use the handle of a large wooden spoon

to pack the mixture firmly into the corer

to form a neat, smooth, tight barrel.

Press out the potato barrel onto a lined baking sheet

and repeat until you've formed all the portions

into Tot shapes.

Places the Tots inside a large sieve

and dust with potato starch, moving the Tots around

so they're evenly coated

and dusting off the excess.

Fry the Tots in 350 degree vegetable oil

until deep golden brown and crispy,

then drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Freeze solid and fry again until crispy

then serve with aioli and ketchup.

Gallop potatoes, potato gratin, twice baked.

There's just, I can't believe I didn't talk about this

on day one, that I just love potato.

There's also so many varieties of potato.

There's purple potato.

There's fingerling, red skin.

[Dan] We did that.

We already talked about this?

Starring: Claire Saffitz

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