Every tot loves a dip
Beyond ketchup: Whether you make them from-scratch or rely on tried-and-true originals, ketchup is often the condiment of choice. But we offer something more. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
Chile con queso
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Makes: 2 cups
Note: Rob Walsh, author of "The Texas Cowboy Cookbook," recommends using this dish as a dip for tortilla chips or a topping for tacos, chalupas or Frito pie. Why not a dunkable for potato tots, too? Walsh said the dish can be made in a double boiler or microwave but he also recommends a slow cooker. "You can leave it there for hours, ladling small amounts into serving bowls while the rest stays warm,'' he writes. Walsh's recipe calls for Velveeta cheese and a can of Rotel tomatoes, a brand of canned tomates with green chiles.
1 pound processed cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can (10 ounces) canned tomatoes with green chiles
Melt the cheese in a slow cooker or double boiler. Stir in the tomatoes. Serve warm.
Per tablespoon: 56 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 186 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Prep: 10 minutes
Makes: About 2 cups
Note: At The Knick restaurant in Milwaukee, the housemade potato tots are paired with a chipotle aioli. The owner is keeping mum on his recipe, so try this one from "The Oldways Table," by chef Paul O'Connell of Chez Henri in Cambridge, Mass. The original can calls for 1 small can (about 7 ounces) chipotle chilies. We found using just 2 chilies was plenty spicy. Add more as you like.
2 egg yolks
2 crushed cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup each: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 chipotle chilies, or more to taste
1 red onion, finely chopped
Combine the egg, egg yolks, garlic, mustard and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. With the machine still running, add the olive oil and canola oil in a slow stream; blend until the mixture emulsifies to the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the cilantro and chilies; blend until smooth. Stir in the red onion; serve.
Nutrition information: Per tablespoon: 70 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 17 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Tangy soy dipping sauce
Prep: 5 minutes
Makes: About 2/3 cup
Note: From "Asian Dumplings," by Andrea Nguyen.
1/3 cup light (regular) soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sugar, optional
1 to 3 tablespoons chili oil, optional
1 piece (1-inch long) fresh ginger, peeled, finely shredded, or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors for a tart-savory balance. Add chili oil as you like for heat. Right before serving, add the ginger or garlic.
Nutrition information: Per teaspoon: 2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 217 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Before you dismiss Tater Tots and its ilk as another example of mid-20th century American food tinkering, consider where tots may actually come from. Asked in an email if there was a classic culinary antecedent for tots, the French-born and trained Jacques Pepin replied quickly in the affirmative.
"Certainly potato croquettes (riced cooked potato and egg yolk shaped like corks, balls or disks, breaded and fried) or potato duchesse (the same but no breading and baked) are the ancestors," wrote Pepin. He pointed curious cooks to "The "Fannie Farmer Cookbook" and other classics for recipes.
Where is the Tater nation?
Ore-Ida's iconic Tater Tots are sold across North America, of course, but where are those little treats most popular? The west north central parts of the United States, according to Max Wetzel, associate marketing director for Ore-Ida. That means Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Wetzel theorizes this is due to the popularity of comfort foods in the region, including Tater Tot hot dish.