Recipe

Leftover Mashed Potato Tots

By Sasha Marx

Leftovers are an essential part of the Thanksgiving dinner experience, and we wanted to see if we could push the envelope a little for those of us who tire of turkey sandwiches or reheated facsimile plates of Thursday’s feast. A group brainstorming session led us to the idea of “leftover mashed potato tots,” and I eagerly volunteered to tackle the challenge. The majority of tater tot recipes out there are really just potato croquettes in disguise—with bread crumbs trying to fill in for the crispy shredded potatoes that make up the crunchy crust of an authentic tot. While I wanted our version to highlight leftover mashed potatoes from T-Day, I also wanted that shredded-potato crunch, too. I solved the issue by peeling, shredding, and blanch-frying some more russets to create an all-potato coating for our mashed centers. Because I didn’t rinse off their natural potato starch before blanching them, the potato shreds adhered to each other after blanching, and I was able to spread them into a sheet (kind of like the rice when making rolled sushi).

The next problem was the consistency of the mashed potatoes. While I wish I could cook everyone’s Thanksgiving potatoes for them and guarantee a similar finished product, that isn’t going to happen. So I had to find a workaround to account for variances in fat content and texture and guarantee crispy tots for all. Those who have made potato croquettes know that fluffy, dry potatoes yield the best fried treats, while loose and overworked potato purées usually end with greasy, gummy blowouts and tears during frying. Instead of turning to flour or eggs to tighten the potatoes up I busted out the instant mashed potato flakes. By tightening the potatoes with more potatoes I was intensifying the potato flavor rather than diluting it with flour or eggs (though we do have a cornstarch substitute that works well). The now-uniform mashed potatoes then get formed into cylinders, placed on the shredded potato sheet, rolled up, cut into tot-sized pieces, and fried for the ultimate croquette–tater tot mashup.

Yield
Makes 21 tots; serves 6 to 8
Tater_20Tots-114.jpg
Ingredients
920 g russet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes), rinsed and peeled
1320 g vegetable oil
400 g leftover mashed potatoes
25 g instant mashed potato flakes
  Salt and pepper
2 pounds russet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes), rinsed and peeled
6 cups vegetable oil
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes
  Salt and pepper
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 920 g russet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes), rinsed and peeled
    • 1320 g vegetable oil

    Shred potatoes on large holes of box grater. Set fine-mesh strainer over large, deep heatproof bowl. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over high heat to 325 degrees F/163 degrees C. Fry shredded potatoes until softened but not browned, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Immediately drain potatoes in prepared strainer; let potatoes drain for 1 minute, then transfer to large bowl and let cool for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. Transfer oil back to Dutch oven.
    • 400 g leftover mashed potatoes
    • 25 g instant mashed potato flakes
    • Salt and pepper

    Stir mashed potatoes and potato flakes together in microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave until hot and steaming, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let cool for at least 15 minutes. 
  1. Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment on cutting board. Spread 1 cup blanched shredded potatoes into even 3½ by 16-inch strip on bottom half of prepared parchment; press with spatula to flatten and remove gaps between potato pieces. 
  2. Portion mashed potato mixture into 21 pieces (15 g each) and form into ¾-inch wide, 1-inch tall cylinders. Place 7 potato cylinders on bottom edge of shredded potato sheet, leaving ½ inch between each cylinder. Lift bottom edge of parchment and roll tightly over mashed potato cylinders, forming log. Smooth and tighten log, working from center out to edges of parchment. Continue rolling and tightening until log is uniform. Unroll parchment and slide potato log onto cutting board. Feel for gaps between tots and, using sharp knife, cut at gaps. Using your hands, seal ends of tots and tighten into compact cylinders; set aside on baking sheet or large plate. Repeat rolling process two more times with remaining shredded potatoes and remaining mashed potato mixture. (At this point, formed tots can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Do not store in refrigerator overnight or freeze, as tots may then burst when fried). 
  3. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Add one-third of tots and fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature of 325 degrees F/160 degrees C and stirring occasionally to prevent tots from sticking to bottom. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate and season with salt to taste. Return oil to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and repeat with remaining tots in 2 batches. Serve immediately.
Instructions
    • 2 pounds russet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes), rinsed and peeled
    • 6 cups vegetable oil

    Shred potatoes on large holes of box grater. Set fine-mesh strainer over large, deep heatproof bowl. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over high heat to 325 degrees F/163 degrees C. Fry shredded potatoes until softened but not browned, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Immediately drain potatoes in prepared strainer; let potatoes drain for 1 minute, then transfer to large bowl and let cool for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. Transfer oil back to Dutch oven.
    • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes
    • Salt and pepper

    Stir mashed potatoes and potato flakes together in microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave until hot and steaming, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let cool for at least 15 minutes. 
  1. Place 12 by 16-inch piece of parchment on cutting board. Spread 1 cup blanched shredded potatoes into even 3½ by 16-inch strip on bottom half of prepared parchment; press with spatula to flatten and remove gaps between potato pieces. 
  2. Portion mashed potato mixture into 21 pieces (½ ounce each) and form into ¾-inch wide, 1-inch tall cylinders. Place 7 potato cylinders on bottom edge of shredded potato sheet, leaving ½ inch between each cylinder. Lift bottom edge of parchment and roll tightly over mashed potato cylinders, forming log. Smooth and tighten log, working from center out to edges of parchment. Continue rolling and tightening until log is uniform. Unroll parchment and slide potato log onto cutting board. Feel for gaps between tots and, using sharp knife, cut at gaps. Using your hands, seal ends of tots and tighten into compact cylinders; set aside on baking sheet or large plate. Repeat rolling process two more times with remaining shredded potatoes and remaining mashed potato mixture. (At this point, formed tots can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Do not store in refrigerator overnight or freeze, as tots may then burst when fried). 
  3. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Add one-third of tots and fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature of 325 degrees F/160 degrees C and stirring occasionally to prevent tots from sticking to bottom. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate and season with salt to taste. Return oil to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and repeat with remaining tots in 2 batches. Serve immediately.
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