Sweet potato tater tots? Until this past weekend, I hadn’t had tater tots of any kind since… I don’t know when. I certainly had never contemplated making them myself! But along came a recipe for Sweet Potato Tater Tots by Ciarra of Popular Paleo in her new Frugal Paleo cookbook that looked too good to pass up.
It’s a sad reality that taking control of your health and switching to a nutrient-dense, high-quality, whole foods diets can be a pricey decision when compared to the widely-available, government-subsidized, factory-made “food” that is the basis of the Standard American Diet. Frugal Paleo helps to provide solutions for optimizing your budget and maximizing your efficiency in the kitchen.
On that note, these Sweet Potato Tater Tots are a great example of something you may have never known could be made with a minimum of mess, fuss and expense in your home kitchen. For example:
If you’re concerned about frying, let me say that I made these Sweet Potato Tater Tots and then pan-fried some bacon to eat them with, and the bacon (which I fry several times a week without a second thought) was actually far messier than the tots.
Hands-on time is minimal: the most time-intensive thing is shaping the shredded sweet potato into the tater tot shape. I was tempted to simply fry these as patties, but the little snub-nosed cylindrical form is half the fun.
I don’t have a box grater among my many kitchen gadgets (how is this possible? Definitely going on the Christmas wishlist…) so I simply shredded the sweet potato in my food processor after baking, and the texture/look of these are still on point.
Don’t let the lack of a narrow, high-sided pan to fry in prevent you from trying these. I fried my Sweet Potato Tater Tots in a mini cast-iron skillet with sides less than 2″ high, and there were minimal splatters.
If the rest of the recipes in Frugal Paleo are half as much of a delightful surprise as this one, then I’m sold 1,000% for sure. I’ve shared the recipe for the Sweet Potato Tater Tots below Ciarra’s permission in advance of publication, and you can pre-order Frugal Paleo now and get up to low-cost, delicious Paleo shenanigans as soon as it’s released. 🙂 AND if you pre-order the book, grab the fun bonus materials below from Ciarra. They’re totally free with your pre-order:
Ciarra says: “I’d like to say that I came up with these sweet potato tater tots for my kids, but we all know the truth. Adults love these just as much as kids do! Tater Tots are an irresistible crunchy side dish, which can actually be made Paleo-friendly thanks to a couple of sweet potatoes—not yams—and some good-quality oil for frying.”
2 to 2.5 lbs (908 g to 1.1 kg) yellow sweet potatoes (not yams)
1/2 cup (118 mL) paleo-friendly fat (I prefer lard, duck fat, avocado oil or [url href=”https://invitetothrive.com/recommends/coconut-oil/” title=”coconut oil”]coconut oil[/url])
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke a few times with a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a [url href=”https://invitetothrive.com/recommends/cookie-sheet/” title=”cookie sheet”]baking sheet[/url] lined with parchment paper and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. This will take a few hours, so plan ahead.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin. It should easily slide off when you drag the back of a butter knife across it. Discard the peels.
Using a box grater or a [url href=”https://invitetothrive.com/recommends/food-processor/” title=”food processor”]food processor[/url], shred the sweet potatoes. The potatoes should be somewhat sticky from having the intrinsic sugars activated from the baking. In fact, it’s the natural sugars from the sweet potatoes that act as the binder for the tot.
Use a tablespoon or something comparable to scoop out spoonfuls of shredded potato. Working one at a time, roll the potatoes back and forth in the palm of your hand a few times, then squish the ends flat to create the classic tater tot shape. Continue working until all the potato is used up.
Now move to frying the newly formed tots. I like to use an 8-inch cast-iron [url href=”https://invitetothrive.com/recommends/8-inch-cast-iron-skillet/” title=”8 inch cast iron skillet”]skillet[/url] because it is narrow with high-sides. This means less oil is needed, which saves money.
Melt or heat your chosen fat in a small, high-sided pan at just shy of high heat. Don’t max out your dial, but get it pretty close.
When the oil is hot, fry 5 or 6 tots at a time, working in batches. Frying only a few at a time will keep the oil temperature stable. This means the tots will have a crispy outside and a creamy inside.
Each side only requires about a minute or so to brown, so keep a close eye on the tots and always be ready to turn and/or remove them. The end caps don’t generally need frying since the oil level is likely high enough to brown the edges.
Once the Tater Tots are golden brown, remove them from the oil and transfer to a surface lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat until all of the tots are cooked.
There is some flexibility between which paleo-friendly oil to select for frying, but in general animal-based fats will yield a better flavor, so my vote is for lard from pastured pigs or duck fat. In the event you don’t have these on hand, avocado oil works great—as does coconut oil. Avoid oils with low smoke points like olive or bacon drippings. They won’t fry properly.