Jalapeño, Cheese and Bacon Tater Tots

24-oz container peanut oil for frying (about 1 inch deep in a small deep-fryer or medium saucepan)

3 medium russet potatoes

8 slices bacon

2-3 jalapeños

1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

2 eggs, whisked

1 cup flour

2 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp smoked paprika

Loads of paper towels

Cook bacon and set aside to cool. Start heating peanut oil to 350° F. If you are using a saucepan instead of a deep-fryer, use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Wash, peel, and cube potatoes. Shred potatoes in a food processor or with a fine box grater.

Place 5 layers of paper towels in a large bowl (or use a thin kitchen towel). Drain potatoes on the towels by gently squeezing. Discard the brown liquid that drains out.Carefully open the towels and roll the drained potato shreds into a clean bowl. Feel for any stray lumps and discard them.

Remove the jalapeño tops and slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and finely chop (a food processor is handy for this step). Mix chopped jalapeño, cheese, and crumbled bacon into the potatoes. Add whisked eggs, flour, corn starch, and spices. Stir until thoroughly incorporated. It is easiest to use your hands for mixing.

Form potato mixture into cylinders and set on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Carefully drop them into preheated oil one at a time. Fry in batches of 5-6 until golden brown, about 5 minutes for each batch. Turn them halfway using tongs. The cheese has a tendency to melt and stick to the bottom of the pan, so you may need to pry them off the bottom when you flip them.

Drain cooked tater tots on a plate lined with paper towels and let cool for at least 5 minutes before trying to take a bite. Dip in whatever sauce you desire. I recommend Ranch. Chipotle Ranch is even better.

Makes about 3 dozen large tater tots, or 4 dozen smaller ones.

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