Potato tot bar food is so hip that Executive Chef Brian Massie has made Stack at the Mirage in Las Vegas a hot spot for celebrity trendsetters with his Adult Tater Tots made with bacon and Brie. And famed Washington, DC, Chef Michel Richard of Citronelle has elevated them to new heights with Tater Tot Foie Gras Ravioli. Re-Inventing Tots was actually a challenge at a recent IACP (Culinary Professionals) conference held in Chicago with contestants submitting Tater-Tini's (a take off on the Martini), Bite Size Potato crusted mini burgers and even a chocolate decadence version with melted chocolate, powdered sugar and a marmalade.
First invented in 1954 on the Idaho Oregon border, the Tater Tot® was the byproduct of leftover scraps from frozen French fries. Originally used as cattle feed, Inventor Neef Grigg decided to chop it, season it, push it through holes in cut plywood and then fry it. He then introduced it at the National Potato Convention where attendees devoured the bite-size dish.
It wasn't long after that that the Tater Tot from Ore-Ida and similar products (rounds, barrels, etc) became a staple on every cafeteria menu across the country, mostly for breakfast sides. And the rest became history … Until Napoleon Dynamite catapulted them into the consciousness of a new audience. Now, the tot is once again climbing the ranks of elite dishes with its retro chic cache. Everything from traditional tots with upscale ingredients to casseroles has been appearing on menus everywhere. Who knows what we'll see next! Do you have a favorite tot recipe to share? Chef Michael Symon's Crab Tater Tots made with panko breadcrumbs and served at his Cleveland restaurant Lolita absolutely melt in your mouth. For the full recipe and photo, visit http://www.idahopotato.com/recipes/id-656. For more information on Michael Symon, visit http://www.lolabistro.com/.
Chef Andy Husbands uses a basic Tater Tot recipe as a launching pad for whatever inspired him - from truffles to andouille - each one more delicious than the next! For his basic recipe, visit http://www.idahopotato.com/recipes/id-654. For more information on Andy Husbands and his Boston restaurant Tremont 647, visit http://www.tremont647.com.
Summer 2008: The Rave Review
A Quarterly Newsletter for the Foodservice Pro
The Rave Review is a quarterly newsletter designed for the foodservice professional by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). Each issue will showcase interesting and innovative Idaho® potato information developed specifically for educators, chefs and operators of both commercial and non-commercial properties. We are interested in any feedback you may wish to share. Please email your comments or questions to email@example.com.
Fresh Thinking: Tater Tots are Smokin' Hot!
No longer a bad stereotype for 80's cafeteria food, formed potato tots are popping up on high-end menus across the country. Of course, they're now referred to simply as one word - "tots" by the new generation of devotees, as made famous by Napoleon Dynamite in the smash Hollywood film. In fact, the Idaho-based film may have single-handedly made potato tots cool again. Learn More »
Summertime Fare by Karen Weisberg
Underscoring the 'fun-time' that's summertime, operators prepare potatoes as sides, hors d'oeuvres and salads with a light touch-but some customers still want their favorite standards, no matter the season.
Ah summertime, ah potatoes. How do we love thee, let us count the ways. Elizabeth Barrett Browning probably wouldn't mind us taking liberties with her timeless poem since who doesn't love summer, and chefs from all sectors of business can (and do) fervently attest to the American fondness for potatoes. To complement summertime meals there's potato salad, to be sure, as well as three potato salad and even fried potato salad for variations on the theme; stuffed potato hors d'oeuvres and asparagus gnocchi; potato croutons as salad garnish; and what's a summertime burger if there are no fries, or perhaps a signature fry (or two) for fun and profit.Learn More »
But don't slight traditional favorites 'cause they're not just for cold weather anymore. From mashed potatoes-in some venues a daily "must"-to a loaded potato bar, customers will speak up if they're not menued frequently enough.
'Sporting' fries: As Aramark's Senior Director of Culinary/Innovation Dining Solutions, Paul Carr manages all lines of business, but this season he aimed to reinvent an old favorite for the Philadelphia-based contractor's Sports & Entertainment division. "We've created signature garlic fries as well as several other 'signature' dry mixes for fries," Carr reports. "It's new to these venues since general concessions typically just offer regular fare, so now we give the guest an option."
To prepare three or four portions at a time, fresh garlic salt is pureed with kosher salt, plus four "different" herbs (Carr's secret combo of ingredients), then tossed-to-order with a prepared French fry. "They're going over great," he's pleased to report. "Our other signature dry mixtures include kosher salt and smoked pepper; Old Bay for a 'crab fry'; mesquite barbecue seasoning; and Cajun seasoning.
What could be more "summertime fare" than an entrée salad, and Carr suggests potato croutons as the perfect crunchy garnish. "Potatoes make a great crouton; we oven-bake or fry them, especially for business-and-industry accounts. Potato sticks are easy to use as garnish-just shave the potatoes down on a mandolin and fry. Croutons are a bit more labor-intensive since you have to cube them by hand."
Also a fit for B&I locations, such as JP Morgan Chase, Carr finds that a "loaded" potato bar (i.e., loaded with a wide variety of toppings), available daily, is a solid draw year 'round. "We use large, 80 count baking potatoes, and sometimes the Yukon Gold variety, so it's a higher perceived quality offering," he says.
In days of yore (perhaps in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's time), college students were "off" for the summer, but not so today on many campuses across the country. In fact, at The College of Idaho, a Bon Appetit Management Company account in Caldwell (which has an on-season enrollment of more than 800), executive chef Maury Bennett finds that summer is one of his busiest seasons, especially with on-and off-campus catering-including numerous weddings-shifting into high gear.
Potato salad-fried: "Fried potato salad bites is our most popular potato dish," Bennett notes. "We make a homemade potato chip by thinly slicing russet potatoes on the mandolin, frying them, then adding thinly sliced onion and thinly sliced celery. Depending upon what's available, dress with some sort of vinaigrette; a local white wine vinaigrette with fresh herbs would be especially fine."
The bridal party that hires Bennett and his staff may well be treated to his specialty-stuffed potato hors d'oeuvres. "I use 'C' size red potatoes-about the size of a golf ball, or even half the size of a golf ball," he explains. "Steam them until they're cooked through, cool them, then hollow out with a melon baller and stuff with almost anything."
Bennett is particularly fond of goat cheese from Rolling Stone Chevre in Parma, Idaho, as a filling, but other fresh cheese, perhaps combined with a bit of garlic, parsley, rosemary and oregano, would work as well. "The skin is pretty tough, so it's not so fragile that it will tear-just make sure to cool the potatoes before you hollow them out. Yes, it's quite time consuming, but it's well worth it," he contends. "The most I've ever done was 1,000, but the usual is four-to-eight dozen, so 50-to-100 for a summertime function."
'Great' gnocchi: As far as Bennett is concerned, "gnocchi is the best pasta," and although asparagus is typically at its springtime best in May, he's prepared asparagus gnocchi well into the summer with excellent results. To prepare, he steams or boils peeled Yukon Golds until fork-tender, then mixes the whole potatoes with salt, pepper, flour and blanched pureed asparagus. "When it's smashed all together it forms the 'dough,'" he says. "Take part of the dough, roll it into bread sticks-about the size of your thumb-then cut into 1-inch pieces; roll these pieces, one at a time, across the tines of a fork into boiling water. This creates crevices in the gnocchi to hold the sauce. When they float, they're done; just remove them from the water and cool, or mix with sauce such as a summertime pesto sauce." He also suggests dressing this fried potato salad with champagne vinaigrette or a combo of Dijon mustard, half-and-half, plus a bit of mayonnaise.
From Paul Luttmann's perspective as Executive Chef at 425-bed Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, people (including his approximately 700 daily lunchtime cafeteria customers) are "probably eating more potatoes today than ever because there are more varieties available," he says. "I was planting Yukon Gold as a kid, but now there are purple potatoes, French fingerlings, etc., so there's a lot more out there. In foodservice, Yukon Gold gets used so much, they're looking for something else."
'One potato, two potato…': With that said, Luttmann still includes Yukons, along with red potatoes and sweet potatoes, in his Three Potato Salad, a particularly popular summertime menu item at Avera McKennan. He removes the skin from the sweet potatoes, but leaves it on the other two varieties. "Medium dice each type of potato separately," he says. "Some guys steam them, but I typically boil them in salt water 'til tender. I usually boil each of the three separately since the Yukons and reds fall apart if they're boiled too long. Then, drain and blast chill them. We'll mix in onions, mayo, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, plus diced hard-boiled eggs. Some guys in the kitchen add pickle relish, some don't; I'm O.K. with that. It's on mostly daily in the cafeteria and on the restaurant-style patient menu that started last October."
Luttmann is particularly proud of his made-from-scratch potato casserole that's on the patient menu, noting that many healthcare locations tend to use potatoes "out-of-the-box" to save time and labor. For convenience, he orders fresh peeled potatoes, sometimes referred to as a "Chef's Potato," then slices them very thin on the mandolin. Once they're in the bowl, he seasons them with salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic and heavy whipping cream, then mixes all ingredients together. "You layer this in a hotel pan, alternating with Parmesan cheese, then bake until it's brown on top, cool, cut into square portions and use cold on the retherm tray line. [Trays are rethermed on the patient floors.] People either love them or they're stll just looking for the standard Cheddar cheese or the out-of-the-box baked scalloped or au gratin potatoes. It's definitely a demographic phenomenon," he believes.
A mashed 'must': Mashed potatoes, a real comfort food, is certainly just that in the healthcare setting and Luttmann-who menus them daily-knows he'll sell more of them, no matter the season, than any other potato dish "including a pan of beautifully roasted French fingerlings," he concedes. "They come in to us as fresh whole peeled potatoes; we steam them, add real melted butter, warm cream, plus salt and pepper. Finally, they're mashed with the paddle [in the mixer] and put out in a pan on the line."
Pennswood Village, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Newtown, Pennsylvania, is home to approximately 465 residents, many of whom cherish lifelong memories of favorite dishes. Executive Chef Billy Henderson treats one and all as "pioneers," and aims to offer them the old-time favorites they appreciate year 'round. While not made with Idaho Russet potatoes, the Sweet Potato Casserole-traditionally seasoned with a bit of cinnamon, mace, ginger and cloves, plus mini marshmallows folded into the mix-is generally rotated through the 5-week cycle menu during the fall and winter months.
With a menu that changes every quarter, he places an emphasis on scratch preparation, and is driven by the availability of sustainably grown local produce when possible. Our residents have many potato dish options. Each and every day, Henderson and his staff prepare baked, boiled or roasted russet and sweet potatoes, traditional mashed, as well as additional creations.
It's time to grill: The warm days of summer afford Henderson the option of grilling potatoes along with seasonal vegetables. He begins with well-scrubbed baking potatoes cut lengthwise in half and half again, then prepares the sliced onions, bell peppers, zucchini and, occasionally, eggplant. "You can put them on the grill or on a perforated pan on the grill," he explains. "Usually, I take the zucchini and split it (skin on), and peel and cut the eggplant in big slices. (We peel the eggplant since some residents have difficulty doing it themselves.) After grilling, I slice the vegetables into 1-inch pieces and sparingly add oil to roast them in a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes to finish them off."
An "old time" dish, Anna Potatoes, is clearly a Henderson favorite 'though he doesn't menu it often since it's fairly labor intensive. He likes to utilize Yukon Golds for this dish, finding that its sweetness, thin skin and relatively low starch content works well; however, he can't get them easily and must give his supplier one-to-two weeks notice that he wants them, he says. "This recipe has been around a long time-it's a beautiful dish, like a work of art, so I'll do it for a special function," he notes.
To prepare, peel and slice potatoes into rounds a bit larger than a silver dollar (using the appropriate slicer attachment); sauté onions separately and set aside. In a round skillet, alternate layers of raw potato "coins" with the sautéed onion and cook (stove top) on medium heat. When golden brown on the bot tom, invert the pan over on a dish, then slide the potatoes back into the pan to continue cooking until golden brown (again, on the bottom). Indeed, "a work of art" for summertime-or anytime-enjoyments.
Health Watch: Nutritional ROI
We've all heard about the new "Super Foods" sweeping the nation and making their marks on menus. Things like mangosteen, goji berry and Açaí. These exotic fruits are becoming famous for being able to promote better health by fighting everything from aging to cancer. But can you fill a menu with them? And even if you could, how much would it cost?
When it comes to getting bang for your buck, Idaho Potatoes are the unrivaled winner. At less than $0.25, a small 5.3 ounce Idaho Potato provides incredible nutrition including Vitamin C and potassium (more than you get from bananas!) in a portion-controlled fat-free, 110-calorie serving. Now that's some return on your investment! For more information on the nutritional benefits of Idaho Potatoes, visit http://www.idahopotato.com/nutrition_facts.Learn More »
For an easy appetizer that's perfect for summer (and for repurposing leftover potatoes), check out this short "how-to" video. Learn More »
Menu Planning 101: Kids Menu Ideas
Planning a kids menu can be tough. You need to consider more than just taste, it's also presentation - it has to look fun and uncomplicated - and nutrition. Classics are a great choice for kids... It's new to them, right!
Pigs in Idaho Potato Blankets are a healthier version of the original, made with nutrient dense potatoes versus pastry dough. At 384 calories per serving, it's a fun yet hearty and filling meal that will satisfy little tykes, as well as their parents. For the full recipe, visit http://www.idahopotato.com/recipes/id-16.Learn More »
For more of a "wow" factor, a Southwest Tuna Casserole with Idaho Curly Fries fits the bill. If it sounds over-the-top, it is only in presentation. Coming in less than 400 calories per serving, it makes a great lunch or dinner - especially when paired with some nice fresh vegetables. For the full recipe, visit http://www.idahopotato.com/recipes/id-60.
The First "Must See" Movie of the Summer Debuted at NRA
Visually gripping colors and special effects; quick, sharp editing that creates a compelling pace ... the next Hollywood blockbuster? Close. It's the latest recipe and instructional DVD offered by the Idaho Potato Commission.
"We wanted to create something that was stimulating and fun to watch," said Don Odiorne, IPC Vice President of Foodservice. "These recipes really reinvent the way we think about cooking with Idaho potatoes; it's exciting. That needed be reflected in the way we shot and edited, as opposed to being just another dry recipe demo with instruction. This had to have character."Learn More »
The DVD contains six recipe demonstrations with informative preparation tips and tricks to help the commercial and noncommercial chef. Everything from a trio of Idaho Potato Lollipops with Dipping Sauces, to Golden Biscuits with a Mashed Idaho Potato Center, there's something to inspire every operator.
The instructional DVD debuted at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago May 17-20. The IPC commissioners and staff wore bright-colored chef jackets that caught the interest of attendees, before drawing their eyes to the video playing on the big screen. Many attendees stood in the aisles and watched the video from beginning to end, every now and then emitting low-pitched oohs and aahs.
To order a free copy of the "Recipe DVD," containing all six recipes, individuals may contact the Idaho Potato Commission at (208) 334-2350 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide a mailing address as well as email contact for future newsletter updates.
Please check back to the Idaho Potato Commission's website in September, when we will be unveiling our new website along with individual recipe "shorts".
Potato "Shorts" Air on AllRecipes.com and MonkeyDish.com
The new mini recipe DVD that debuted at NRA was such a hit that it expanded its screen presence to "theatres" across the country.
An audience of nearly 6,000 viewed the blockbuster shorts from May 18 to May 25 at AllRecipes.com. The Idaho Potato Lollipops video received the highest user interest with 2,951 views. The Fried Idaho Potato Salad video came in second with 1,136 page views. Through banners on the integrated videos as well as text links to the Idaho Potato recipes on the video pages, over 1,500 clicks drove users to the Idaho Potato Commission's Web site. Overall this custom campaign delivered 6,424,857 impressions, 6,054 clicks with an estimated media value of over $75,000.Learn More »
This short online program provided Idaho Potato with an incredible opportunity to reach and engage the AllRecipes audience in a truly organic and integrated way.
Those who missed the limited release of the potato shorts on AllRecipes.com can visit MonkeyDish.com (the new home page for Restaurant Business Magazine) where they will air through the end of summer. To find them, go to the video section on the right side of the home page and click on the Grown in Idaho icon.
In this Issue: