I love to eat food with my hands-too bad it’s not always a socially acceptable practice. When I’m at home, by myself, I love to eat waffles with my hands, tearing off large chunks and dipping them into syrup. I’ve also been known to double fist hefty slices of pecan pie, and, if I had it my way, would always eat sushi sans chop sticks (partly due to my inability to use this utensil). These sweet potato tots are perfect for me-they essentially require the use of hands. Better yet, I’ve never seen anyone use a fork to eat their tater tots. There’s something about picking up one of these nuggets that just makes me smile. They’re slightly firm on the outside and have the perfect amount of give on the inside. They’re plump nuggets of happiness, especially when dunked in either Sriracha or pesto mayo.
The first time I had sweet potato tots, I was visiting my two cousins in NYC. We were at Big Daddy’s Diner, a diner straight from the Happy Day’s era. They served items such as cookie dough pancakes, bacon Milky Way shakes, and your all-American pigs in a blanket. The decor was classic, the booth seats springy under their red vinyl covers. The highlight of the meal was definitely the sweet potato tots, or, as they call them, sweet potater tots.
The crunchy exterior is the key to this recipe’s success. Each tot is rolled in crushed sweet potato chips (I used sweet potato tortilla chips by Food Should Taste Good). This allows the tots to be baked instead of fried without sacrificing any crunch. The interior is equally as good, filled with a touch of butter, asiago cheese, and spice. Be sure to make the two dips as they really elevate the dish.
The Bite: The worst part about eating chips is that they never fail to get into every crevice of my teeth. I always feel like I need to brush my teeth afterwards. When choosing a toothbrush, be sure to choose one with soft bristles. Hard toothbrushes are abrasive, can irritate your gums, and can cause your gum line to recede if used aggressively. In comparison, soft toothbrushes are more kind to your teeth and gums, yet still effectively remove plaque build up.
Sweet Potato Tots
Yield: 36 tots
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 asiago cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper (or less if you don’t want as much of a kick)
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
5 heaping cups of sweet potato tortilla chips (about 7 ounces)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha
1/4 cup mayonaise
3 tablespoons pesto
Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 1 hour at 400˚F, or until very soft. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Squeeze the sweet potatoes out of their skins and add all of the ingredients except the sweet potato chips, thoroughly mixing. Place the chips in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Take about a tablespoon of sweet potato tot batter (don’t worry if it is soft), shape into tater tot form, and roll in the crushed chips. Reshape the tots if you need to. They will hold their shape better once rolled into chips. Place the tots on a greased cookie sheet and coat in cooking spray. Bake at 400˚F for 30 minutes, flipping the tots over half way through the baking process.
For the two dips, in separate bowls, mix the ingredients until smooth. Serve with piping hot sweet potato tots.
Source: adapted from Half Baked Harvest