Tater Tots started out as the discarded pieces of frozen french fries. When one of the founders of the Ore-Ida company saw that the fry leftovers were being fed to cattle, he decided to try something new. He took the pieces and cut, seasoned and fried them to make a new potato dish. Homemade hash brown puffs -- Tater Tots is the trademarked name -- are made in a similar fashion even today. Rather than buying a bag of frozen Tater Tots at the grocery store, you can make a fresh batch of your own with just a few ingredients and a little bit of time.
Clean and peel four Russet potatoes. Place the potatoes in a 2-qt. saucepan. Fill the pot with enough cold water to just cover the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool the boiled potatoes slightly for handling.
Grate the potatoes, using a hand grater and large bowl or grating attachment for a food processor.
Add 1 egg, lightly beaten to the grated potatoes and stir. Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and mix.
Season the potato mixture with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Additional seasonings or herbs of your choosing can also be added at this point. Garlic powder, cayenne, parsley or oregano are all good options.
Form the mixture into small balls of about 1 inch each.
Heat vegetable or canola oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Use enough oil to fill the pot halfway.
Add the potato balls in batches to the hot oil, lowering them gently into the oil to avoid burning yourself. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Remove the fried potatoes with tongs or a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined tray or plate to drain the excess oil. Let them cool slightly before serving.