Sometimes, I Surprise Myself…
At Le Bernadin last Saturday night one of the dishes for the degustation, which wasn't anywhere to be found on the menu, was a pile of crispy-fried tater tots with ketchup served with a green salad and peas and asparagus and a piece of toast with blue-cheese spread on it. It was just so good that it was pretty much all I could think about this week. The delicate, clean-flavoured tater tots balancing with the interesting green salad, slightly tacky on the palate. I had to have it again! So last night, after days of consternating, after reading every known recipe and technique, after convincing myself I would fail abysmally, I went about recreating it…
And it turned out just about perfect.
Quality tater tots are not new to these shores, and at $1 per pound, $10 worth will give you a lot of very happy moments. While tomato sauce is the Chanel of Australian sauces, ketchup is perfect accompaniment to the American potato ‘gem’. I think ketchup is better with this dish than tomato sauce, it needs that red oomph, that macho-ness, as opposed to the delicate sweetness of tomato sauce.
It was as simple as opening the plastic packet, spreading the tater tots over a baking tray, dusting with a little kosher salt (although regular salt would be just as good), and placing in a pre-heated oven. While the little gems baked, I mixed my ‘salad mix’ greens with freshly cut tomatoes and tinned Spanish olives. Don't use kalamata olives as they are too flavoursome. The weak watery dullness of the Spanish olive is what you need so it can be overwhelmed by store brought Ranch dressing.
I then put some bread into the toaster, and some frozen peas into a microwave safe dish with a dash of tap water. I microwaved the peas for three minutes till they were pregnant with succulent green flavour. I repeated this process with the chopped up asparagus (yes, using the whole spear of asparagus, it didn’t taste too bad). Then the toast popped and I spread it with lashings of mouldy cheese.
After 20 minutes I peaked into the oven and I cannot tell you how excited I was. I squealed when I saw the golden gems through the oven door. Yes, I squealed. Anyone with a half-interest in cooking and/or food blogs will know how delicate the issue of tater tots are. They are the 'it' indulgence around the world. They are the loveliest, daintiest of fried frozen oily potato.
I quickly served all the elements together on a plate while the gems were still steaming. I enjoyed this dish with my favourite lager of the moment; Old Habour Pilsner. However, next time I may go for something a little richer, perhaps Old Habour Stout.
Because there will be many next times for home-baked tater tots with green salad and microwaved vegetables… oh la la!