February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day. First, the legal stuff: Tater Tot® (photo #1) is the registered trademark of Ore-Ida. Everything else must be called, generically, a potato tot.
Here’s the history of Tater Tots: how the little nuggets came to be.
Now, how about an enhancement of the original: a yummy Potato Tot Casserole with braised beef—braised in stout?
It’s is a time-consuming recipe, the kind you make on a Saturday afternoon to serve for Sunday dinner. If you make your own potato tots, you’ll need to prepare them a day in advance. Otherwise, you can purchase tots.
Ingredients For The Braised Beef
or mushroom stock)
*If you cannot find truffle paste, substitute the gruyère for gratable truffle cheese (photo #6). Unfortunately, truffles are so unique that there isn’t a substitute, especially in a dish that already uses mushrooms.
Preparation For The Braised Beef
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and sear the beef on both sides, working in batches. Then remove it from the pot.
2. KEEP the pot over medium heat, add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery; brown slightly. Add the stout. Turn down the heat to low and reduce the liquid slightly. Place the beef back in the pot and add the beef stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and braise in the oven until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
3. REMOVE the meat from the braising liquid and reserve. Strain the liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil and whisk in the cornstarch to thicken slightly.
1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Wash the potatoes well with water to remove all dirt. Lightly prick the potatoes with a fork and toss with 4 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons salt.
2. SPREAD the potatoes out on a large baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Discard the skins.
3. CUT the potatoes in half and press the flesh through a baking grate into a large mixing bowl. Season with 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper, then fold in 4 tablespoons olive oil.
4. LINE a half sheet tray with parchment paper and lightly grease with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Firmly and evenly, press the potato mix into the tray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill overnight.
 Tater Tots with ketchup (photo courtesy Red Duck Foods).
5. CUT the potato mixture into about 1-inch squares. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a shallow fry pan to about 325°F. Carefully place the potato squares into the oil and fry until golden and crispy, flipping as needed and working in small batches so not to crowd the pan. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
For The Casserole
1. PREHEAT the oven broiler to medium-high. Heat the braised beef in a large sauté pan with the thickened braising liquid, pearl onions and mushrooms. Once hot, add the heavy cream and fold in the truffle paste.
2. DIVIDE the mixture between 6 metal dishes and top each with fried potato tots. Sprinkle gruyère cheese over the top. Broil until the cheese is melted. Garnish with chives and serve.