A humorous, optimistic blog about Food, Family, Friends and Faith

Guilty Pleasure

It’s time I came clean. I have a reputation for being a good cook, one who will try almost anything. I’m fortunate to have a family that likes adventurous meals as well. However, I have a confession to make: I love a food that is very un-gourmet. It’s a food which is inexpensive, comfort food. It’s what I turn to after a long day when a fancy meal just won’t do and I don’t want to cook. I just want to take my guilty pleasure, hide in the basement to watch whatever is on TV and leave everyone else to fend for themselves in the kitchen. What is this amazing food that comforts me over everything else?


tater tots with cheese


Now that my secret is out in the open, I feel the need to clarify a few things. There is really only one way to make tater tots. You bake them until they are crispy on the outside (this means your oven has to be very, very hot). When they are crispy, only then can you top them with shredded cheese. I don’t fry my tots; I don’t like the oiliness that results from frying. I’d rather have greasy fingers from the ridiculous amount of melted cheese on them. I’ve used slices on my tots, but that’s not quite as satisfying – too much cheese sticks to the baking sheet that way. The cheese has to be on the tots, not on the pan.

Tots ‘n’ cheese should never be served with ketchup. That’s sacrilegious. They should never be served with {shudder} chili or onions or as a faux nacho plate with bacon, sour cream, olives and green onions. Blech! And serve me tots with gravy and you might need an extra “lather, rinse, repeat” because you’ll probably wear them home.

Serving tots with the right cheese is important. Cheese sauce or melted CheezWhiz or Velveeta are an anathema. Don’t be getting all foo-foo, either – stay away from the fontina, mozzarella, emmenthaler and gorgonzola. The cheese should be shredded and should be cheddar, preferably yellow (although one time I used white American cheese slices and it hit the spot). It has to cling to the taters, and shouldn’t slide off. That’s why you add the cheese after the taters are piping hot and crispy – instant melt! You also have to have a good balance between too much and too little. Too little is boring. Too much and you can’t pick them up. You want tots ‘n’ cheese, not cheese ‘n’ tots.

One final no-no about my favorite comfort food: Never, ever, ever should tater tots be served on a casserole (that’s a hot dish to you midwesterners). That’s just gross. Look at these poor tots – just swimming in green beans and ground beef and yucky sauce (and what’s the deal with the buttered bread?).

Let’s give the humble tater tot its rightful place in the pantheon of culinary giants. It deserves it. All these years of being in the shadow of its more famous Uncle Chip and its French Cousin Fry has made many people forget about it. Bring it out into the light! Consume it with gleeful gooey abandon!

I’ll get off my soapbox now. If anyone needs me, I’ll be watching Anthony Bourdain reruns downstairs with a big plate of tots. It’s been a hard day and I deserve them…

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Comments on: "Guilty Pleasure" (4)

  1. Emily said:

    Oh Coleen! I so know how you feel-LOL…even after all my schooling, all the fun stuff I experienced at school…one of my favorite meals is still good old Kraft Mac and Cheese…from the blue box…LOL about as un-gourmet as you can get!!

  2. I ate GOBS of that when I was pregnant. I couldn’t get enough! 🙂 It’s great stuff. None of that baked macaroni and cheese that you cut a slice of. It has to be gooey, right?

  3. Elaine said:

    Sorry but I have to disagree with a few things. Cheese tots are yummy with chili AND onions. And if you let your tots get too crispy, they are dry. To each their own lol

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