I’ve been thinking a lot about travel lately. I really miss it! When I think of travel, it often leads to thinking about great food I’ve had while traveling and the memories that go with it. Tater tot poutine came from one of those day dreams.
But First, A Story
The first trip that Sean and I took together was to Montreal. Honestly, it was SO long ago that I remember just a few things about that first trip. I remember hanging out at the top of Mont Royal and strolling through the park there. I also remember a disaster ordering poutine.
Long story short, we hit up a fast food joint. If you’ve been to Montreal, it was one of those places where the sign is just junk food: hot dogs, hamburgers, fries. We didn’t have Yelp back then. We ordered poutine. I tried my very best to order in my rudimentary high school French. I was shocked by the price, but in my fluster, I just paid.
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When our food was ready, I realized that I had paid for THREE orders of poutine when I tried to order just one! It was so embarrassing! After talking to the manager, and some rolling of the eyes of the cashier who was adamant I said “trois”, I was able to return two of the orders and get some money back.
Anyway, I was thinking about Montreal last week and how I really wished we could travel there. I was also thinking about the tater tots in our freezer. And clearly those thoughts melded into an idea for tater tot poutine. Tater tots might be an even better vehicle than fries for gravy and cheese curds. They are heartier and the gravy has more room to soak into the potato.
Our First Trip Together to Montreal
How to Cook Frozen Tater Tots?
Let’s talk tots for a minute. Obviously, the best tots are fried, but it’s a lot easier to pop them in the oven. Here’s a trick: cook them a little hotter and a little longer than the package recommends. I like to heat my oven to 450F degrees and cook them for about 25 minutes at that temperature. You’ll end up with super crispy tots without a vat of oil.
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About the Cheese
One last thing about this recipe: I know authentic poutine calls for cheese curds and this recipe uses crumbled mozzarella cheese. Cheese curds aren’t always easy to find. I wanted this recipe to be easily accessible to anyone and mozzarella cheese has a similar texture. If you can get your hands on curds, by all means, use them!
Tater Tot Poutine
- 16 oz frozen tater tots
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 5 oz button or crimini mushrooms roughly chopped
- ½ cup onion diced small, ~¼ large onion
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ½ tbsp Sherry vinegar could sub apple cider vinegar or balsamic
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 cup beef broth
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 4 oz block mozzarella cheese torn into curd-sized chunks
- 1 scallion green tops, sliced
- Pre-heat the oven to 450F degrees. Spread tater tots on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Once the oven is heated up, bake for ~25 minutes until very gold brown and crispy.
- While the tots are cooking, make your gravy. Place a high sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once the olive oil is heated up, add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms start to brown. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The mushrooms will release their liquid and that will evaporate. Once the mushrooms have cooked down and started to brown, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté the onion until it starts to get soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme. Cook for about a minute. Add the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes.Whisk in the Sherry vinegar, soy sauce, and beef broth. Whisk until the liquid is smooth and there are no lumps from the flour. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the gravy is thickened, stirring with a wooden spoon while simmering.Taste your gravy and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the tater tots are cooked, place them in a shallow bowl. Spoon the gravy on to the tots. Then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Garnish with scallion greens.