Got way too many leftover mashed potatoes? Yeah, me too. Making mashed potato tots uses up your spuds in an easy and tasty way!
I figured it out.
And no, I don’t mean the meaning of life (42), what is love (baby don’t hurt me), or what I’m having for dinner tonight (Thanksgiving Dinner 2: The Reheating).
I figured out how to make mashed potatoes into a next day breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner side dish.
Those uncooperative spuds were fighting me at every turn. I couldn’t get them to behave for the life of me!
Oh, and I hope you all had a good thanksgiving! Mine was a bit hectic, but my pointers in my post on Thanksgiving hosting really helped!
And yes, I’m quite familiar with the leftover cycle.
Last year, I tried to combat the leftover cycle with my Thanksgiving stuffed acorn squash. It was tasty but man alive, did that one look odd! One day, I’ll work on re-posting new pictures for old posts. But today is not that day.
To be honest and pat myself on the back a little, my corn pudding is the first one to go. I have to make a double batch of it just to make sure there is some for leftovers! Then it’s usually my mom’s famous stuffing, my sister’s sweet potato casserole, and then the healthy vegetables.
Mashed potatoes, along with the turkey, rank dead last in leftover consumption in my house. Why? It’s not because they taste bad. The turkey, usually prepped and cared for by my mother, comes out deliciously moist. The potatoes are always great too.
It’s a quantity problem.
We buy big turkeys for the leftovers. There’s just so much you can do with them! But each year, I find a struggle for what to do with those potatoes, other than throwing a bowl in the microwave every day for the next week.
So I set to dress up my delicious nemesis, mashed potato leftovers.
Introducing Mashed potato tots. (Also affectionately known as mashed potater tots)
They’re not true tater tots, I will say that. What I will say, however, is that these little nuggets are crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and are totally worth a little extra effort.
And when I mean little, I really do mean it.
All I need is your leftover taters, an egg, and a little bit of butter, and you’re well on your way to mashed potato tot bliss.
Okay, Gem. Sounds good. Is there anything else I need to know?
Yes, there are two and a half caveats to this recipe.
I’ll start with the half. Frying these in butter makes the difference. Don’t use butter spreads; those have water added to them to make them spread easier. They are called spreads for a reason!
Get your self a stick of butter and coat the bottom of the pan, like you would with spray. It tastes better. Of course, if you want to use non-stick spray, be my guest. (I guess. But you’re missing out!)
And speaking of non-stick, you’re going to want to use a non-stick pan for this recipe.
Generally speaking, I don’t like non-stick pans. Teflon has a tricky past with food and health (which I don’t want to get into), so most of the pans that are in my house are stainless steel or cast iron.
Whilst trying to do this recipe with a stainless steel pan, the potato mixture just kept sticking to the pan! This is probably due to the water content in the mashed potatoes that causes the little-mashed potato tots to stick. That, and food actually creates a chemical bond with the stainless steel, which is why you need so much elbow grease to get that food off the bottom. (source)
But anyway, I tried the same recipe on the one tiny non-stick pan that we had in the house, and it worked like a charm! I’m guessing that if a non-stick pan worked, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet should do well for this recipe too.
The last caveat is kind of a big one: your mashed potatoes need to be made from a high-starch potato, like a russet.
What do I mean? Well, there are all sorts of different potatoes, each with their own amount of starches in them. In my roasted potato post I did earlier this year, I used a Blue Belle– a waxy, or low-starch potato. I personally like low-starch potatoes for their creamy, chewy texture and light browning during roasting. Supposedly, they also hold up better in soups versus their high-starch counterparts.
But, news to me, high-starch potatoes like russets do a lot better with mashed potatoes.
I usually use a red potato, another low-starch spud with a thin skin. They are ideal for mashed potatoes with the skins left in.
But during testing, my norm didn’t work. Sure, those mashed potato tots were still delicious, but the lack of starches in these potatoes resulted in slightly soggy, fall-apart tots.
With the second test mashed potato batch, the russets crisped up a lot better on the bottom, causing the mashed potato tots to hold together and make it on the plate in one piece!
Hooray for food science, the only science I now willingly study!
The good news to all of this is that unless you like skin-on mashed potatoes (like me), you will most likely be making your mashed potatoes with russets. But then again, I’m always willing to try something new!
Since I encourage experimentation, test it on your potatoes. Will they work on instant potatoes? What if you added some sort of extra starch (whether it be potato, rice, corn, tapioca, etc.) to low-starch mashed potatoes? What if this recipe was done to mashed sweet potatoes?! Do those even exist? Probably! (Edit: they do. Of course they do.)
If you discover some stunning results, be sure to leave them in the comments down below!