You gonna eat your tots?

Sometimes I have to check on Urban Dictionary to see if my sandwich names are already on there.

Thawed tater tots all prepped for waffling.

The world never asked for tater tot waffle sandwiches, but I made them anyway. Read along to find out how I incorporated tater tots into my sandwich routine.

First things first, these aren’t actually tot waffle sandwiches because a sandwich is usually named after the stuff in the middle of the sandwich, not the things on the outside. But I think I’m in charge here and clearly no one can stop me, or they would have already, so these are hereby known as: tot waffle sandwiches.

This week I made several tot waffle sandwiches. Read on to see what I did.

The bread

Wait. Whoops, there’s no bread this week. Dang.

The tot waffle.

A bit past eight minutes seems about perfect for my waffle maker (it took a few seconds to open my phone camera).

First, we need some tater tot waffles!

  1. Find a waffle maker.
  2. Buy some frozen tater tots.
  3. Let us get down to business.

Below is my recipe for a tater tot waffle, but it’s so easy you almost don’t need a recipe. You need to thaw your frozen tots and then waffle them.

To find out how many tots I needed to thaw, I opened my turned off waffle maker and placed frozen tots in it until they all fit and then put the rest of the bag back in the freezer. Then I counted them.

The tots I laid out on the waffle maker, I transferred to a plate and let them sit covered in plastic wrap until they were thawed and ready to cook. My waffle maker accepts about 30 tots, but yours might be different.

Thawing 30-ish tater tots can be done in the microwave in 1 or 2 minutes on high. I usually just pull them out an hour or two in advance, but if you’re in a hurry just use the microwave to thaw.

Once your tots are thawed, turn your waffle maker on high and when it’s warmed up, place the tots inside and waffle them. It takes my waffle maker about 8 minutes to get a crispy tot waffle. Your time may vary depending on your waffle maker.

Recipe Card
13 minutes
Tater tot waffle

Crispy and crunchy with almost no effort. Tater tot waffles are easy to make and are a great addition to a fun breakfast.

Get Recipe

Funnily enough our 15-year-old waffle maker broke during the making of these sandwiches. I dropped it slightly and the knob broke off and you could no longer control the temperature. Since I’m so dedicated to this blog, we quickly bought this fairly cheap waffle maker delivered the next day from amazon and it worked great for tot waffles.

If you don’t have a waffle maker, you’re going to have a hard time making tot waffles, but I’d be really curious to read about your plans and ideas; let me know on twitter.

Waffling history

There was a time in my life where I attempted to waffle a lot of different things. After a search through my instagram, it seems this was around 2014 because below is my first tater tot waffle experience.

November 18th, 2014, was the first time I tried waffling tater tots. Never turned back.

A few weeks ago, when I got the idea to turn tater tots into the “bread” in sandwiches, my mind first went to breakfast because of hash browns so that’s where we’ll start.

The breakfast tot waffle

This is probably the best tot waffle experience, and it likely makes the most sense. You have your bacon; you have your eggs and cheese and then you sandwich it all within a tot waffle.

This particular breakfast tot waffle experience was a folded egg, homemade bacon and good old deli sliced American cheese; the breakfast dream team sandwiched between two tot waffles.

But seriously, the best application for a tot waffle is breakfast. Just start a tot waffle waffling while you’re busy cooking the rest of your breakfast and slice the waffle into quarters. In less than 10 minutes you’ll be ready for a breakfast sandwich or crispy potato hashbrown side dish.

Home smoked thick cut bacon, folded egg and American cheese on a tater tot waffle.

The lunch tot waffle

A good partner to waffles is fried chicken and I guess it won’t even matter that the waffle in question is made from potatoes?

For my lunch waffle I fried up some boneless chicken breast pieces. I typically fry chicken thigh, but we had one extra massive 1.5-pound chicken breast that we didn’t need for another meal and it was either freeze it for later or fry it for sandwiches. And now you know which one I chose to do.

Fresh out of the frying oil and onto a rack to rest.
A breast piece and a tenderloin with a fresh tot waffle.

Below is my recipe for frying chicken thighs. I used breast meat in this sandwich, but it’s the same process. If you have an instant thermometer, you should use it if you’re not sure if your chicken is done. The key to this recipe is the spice, but if you don’t like heat, you can leave all of that out if that’s your preference.

With these fried breast pieces, I placed them between two tot waffles and slathered on a little bit of my special sandwich sauce. I didn’t think about it until later, but pickles would have been great here. I also started thinking that slaw would be a good addition, so I whipped some slaw up and that went into my next sandwich.

35 minutes
Buttermilk fried chicken thighs

A quick and easy recipe to prepare fried chicken for sandwiches. The cayenne gives it some heat. You can omit that if you don't want it spicy or even double it if you're extra bold.

Get Recipe

This was a good sandwich. The crunchy fried chicken and the crunchy potato waffle were good together, but it probably could have used another texture. And like I alluded to earlier, it could have used some pickle acidity to cut the richness.

Spicy fried chicken, special sauce totted in two waffles.
The sandwich you didn’t know you wanted until I showed you.

The dinner tot waffle

For my next tot waffle sandwich, I also fried some pieces of chicken breast meat. I slathered those crispy fried chicken pieces in my old goose sriracha wing sauce and added a basic cabbage slaw sandwiched with tater tot waffles.

The tot waffles in these pictures were redder and darker because I sprinkled Cajun seasoning onto the tater tots instead of just salt and pepper, because why not add more seasoning?

This was a great sandwich and had a lot of flavor from the chicken and crunch from the tot waffle and the slaw kept the spicy heat in check.

Spicy sriracha coated fried chicken tot waffle with a little slaw.
A closer side view of a lovely spicy tot waffle.

The snack tot waffle

For our snack tot waffle, we’re gonna get wild and put the bread in the middle. Ok, maybe it’s bread CHEESE, but it’s still in the middle. Back during my waffling phase I found bread cheese and fell in love. This stuff is great.

Bread cheese isn’t available everywhere, but it seems popular in the Midwest. It was started/invented in Finland apparently and is still very prevalent there. I can find it online, but it’s not cheap unless you’re near where a local cheesemaker is making it.

You can find it online with a search for: “bread cheese” or “juusto.”

I’ve always thought that a cool thing to do at a party would be to have a hot waffle maker in the corner and a few packs of bread cheese. You could put simple instructions by the waffle maker to instruct your party guests on how they can make their own cheese waffle for snacking.

Anyway, enough with me helping to plan your next party, let’s snack.

This is the snack tot waffle. I’m predicting at least one person reading this will try to comment that their nickname in college was “snack tot waffle.”

Bread cheese in the middle, tot waffle on the outside. Marinara added to bring it all together.

Make tot waffles

Tot waffle sandwiches might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you should remember tot waffles as a breakfast side dish option. Whenever you might want crispy hash browns, this recipe delivers. You could even dice up some green onions or peppers and sprinkle them among the tater tots before waffling for more flavor.

The simple fact that you can have a crunchy potato side dish cooking with little to no effort while you’re preparing eggs and/or breakfast meat makes tot waffles a winner in my book.

Check back next week when I might be making normal people sandwiches. Or maybe not. No one knows!

You ain’t nothin’ but a corndog.

Any sandwich is paw-sible if you put your mind to it.

This week I turned corndogs into sandwiches.

Yeah, that’s it. That’s the tweet. I turned corndogs into sandwiches.

If you’re from a foreign country or planet that doesn’t have a corndog, they are pretty simple. A corndog is typically a hot dog or sausage, battered in a sweetened cornmeal batter and fried until the outside is crispy and golden brown. Then you squirt mustard on the outside or you find condiments to dip in and go to town eating a corndog on a stick.

There’s no need to turn a corndog into a sandwich but I did it anyway because no one tells me what to do.

The corndog

This week is extra corny, so we’re changing things up and instead of starting with the bread, we’ll start with the corndog recipe I use. This recipe is for making actual corndogs on a stick, but as you’ll soon see, you could turn any sort of sausage or meat patty into something that is corndog battered and fried until crispy and still soft between the outside and the dog.

Recipe Card
32 minutes

Corndogs are great and when you make them at home you have full control of the sausages used. Try a polish sausage, your favorite local hot dog brand or even turkey dogs if you want something a little healthier (healthy corndogs - hah!).

Get Recipe

I have typed the word corndog so many times at this point it’s out of control. Just wait.

A crazy person.

For my corndog sandwiches I used both hot dogs and also some breakfast sausage that I cooked up into circular patties. Here are some of the pictures of the buildup and frying process.

Butterflied half dogs on the left and cooked patties of breakfast sausage on the right. I didn’t fry all these at once. I did one type one day and one type the next day. I’m not fully crazy. Just a little bit.
Frying some of the butterflied hot dogs.
The post fried cooked sausage patties.

I like to use chopsticks as the stick in my corndogs. I believe the food genius Alton Brown taught me this. The disposable chopsticks that haven’t been separated from each other are solid and just wide enough to be a great handle for a fried corndog. This is the batch of chopsticks that I have purchased (Amazon affiliate link) and you can also use them to work on your General Tso chomping technique in your non-corndog time as well.

Or if you need some chopsticks, you can just order delivery Chinese and make sure to click the “no utensils required” and they will send you some anyway! Sorry, this is my specific annoyance, please ignore. Next.

The bread

For some of these sandwiches I had a few leftover potato rolls from past sandwiches. I also always have homemade biscuits in the freezer waiting for their turn to be baked. In this case they were my savory cheddar cheese biscuit recipe.

Biscuits baked from frozen

When I make a batch of biscuits, I often will only cook two or three and immediately put the rest in the freezer to firm up. Basically, I take two sheet pans both lined with parchment. One is headed to the oven and the other goes into the freezer with the uncooked biscuits I want to save. After three hours or so the freezer biscuits are pretty firm and you can take the sheet pan out and package all the biscuits up in freezer safe packaging. Freezing them on a sheet pan like this makes it easy to reach in and grab one or two biscuits for cooking later.

If you want to cook a homemade frozen biscuit, you can bake at the same temperature (I use 475 F/245 C) and I cook for two or three minutes longer than the time I would cook a fully thawed biscuit. The one thing you need to pay attention to is the bottom of the biscuits; they tend to darken quicker than the tops in my oven. Often if I’m making biscuits straight out of the freezer, I will double stack two sheet pans to give the bottom a bit more insulation and protection from the heat.

Here’s my savory cheddar cheese biscuit recipe that makes a fantastic sandwich.

40 minutes
Super savory cheddar cheese biscuits

These savory biscuits are great on their own and even better with chicken or pork for a breakfast sandwich.

Get Recipe

The sandwiches

These first two sandwiches are on the same batch of cheddar cheese biscuits. They are corndog battered breakfast pork sausage patties topped with maple mustard. This was better than I expected. The corndog exterior had just the right amount of crunch and the texture of the sausage patty beside the soft interior of the cooked cornbread led to a great experience.

Corndog battered and fried breakfast sausage patty with maple mustard on a cheddar cheese biscuit.
After you pull out the chop stick you’re left with a hole that makes it look like you made a sandwich with a jelly doughnut in the middle. Hrm, that gives me an idea…

As you saw in the photos above, I also butterflied some hot dogs that I had cut in half and fried those in corndog batter as well. These I sandwiched with some maple mustard and topped them with pickle relish. This sandwich was also a lot of fun to eat. Corndogs are just plain fun, sandwich or no sandwich.

Butterflied hot dog, corndog battered and fried with maple mustard and sweet pickle relish.
A little cross-section time. This is not the same as the other corndog sandwich in a bun. The butterflied dog gives you a wider section to the sandwich which ends up taking up more bun space. In this case it actually gave space for the relish to spread out.
Another corndog battered and fried breakfast sausage patty with just plain yellow mustard this time.

If you’ve read this far, I bet you thought I was finished for the week.

Maangchi’s Gamja-hotdog sandwich

AKA: the Goblin Club sandwich

If you’re a reasonable sandwich person you can stop here and come back and read about sandwiches next week.

If you’re like me and have mostly lost your mind, please continue and read about how I attempted to turn Maangchi’s recipe for a Gamja-hotdog into a sandwich. If you’ve never heard of Maangchi, you need to go watch some of her videos. She’s great.

I mentioned in passing that I was writing a blog post about turning corndogs into sandwiches with my friend JP and she immediately sent me Maangchi’s “Korean french fries corndog” video. In the video Maangchi mentions that sometimes this style of fried hot dog on a stick is referred to as a goblin club because of how it looks like a lumpy club a fictional goblin might carry when the gamja-hotdog is cooked. Here’s a video you can watch of Maangchi making hers.

So I watched the video and then attempted it.

First I sliced a hot dog 2/3rds of the way through all the way down. I broke apart my chopsticks and I skewered the butterflied hot dog in two places (there’s a photo of this below). I did it this way because I felt it might be tough to flip over in the hot frying oil. This turned out to be a pretty good idea.

Then I followed Maangchi’s instructions and par-boiled some very small squares of potato. I also prepared the batter which is really nothing like corndog batter. It’s much more like a sticky very hydrated bread dough.

I set my batter, the pre-cooked potatoes and some panko breadcrumbs on my counter and this became my breading station. You can see below or in Maangchi’s video how the “batter” isn’t really much like pancake or corndog batter.

Each dog (I just made two this time) would go through the batter first, then get rolled into the potatoes and finally dusted with the panko breadcrumbs prior to submerging into the hot frying oil.

My breading station. From top, Gamja hotdog batter, par cooked potatoes and at the bottom are panko breadcrumbs.
Hot dog on a stick going into the very sticky batter.

Once fried, your Korean Gamja-hotdog will look very lumpy and a little bit crazy. Apparently, it’s supposed to look like that. Maangchi dusts hers with white sugar and then squirts ketchup and mustard on them, so I did that as well. You can see the finished product still on the sticks below.

BEFORE the battering and frying
AFTER the fry and condimenting

The final Gamja-hotdog sandwich.

Oh no. That crazy sandwich guy put it on a bun. Why do they let him do this.

I’m not sure why anyone allows me to do this, but for once, it worked out and this was a fun sandwich to eat. It’s crispy fried french fries and a hot dog on a bun! What could go wrong?

The Maangchi Gamja-hotdog turned into a sandwich. Literally batter fried hot dog and french fries all rolled into one thing. How can that be bad?

Why did I make corndog sandwiches? No one will ever know. Will I do it again? Probably not. BUT I will be making corndogs again because they really are easy and allow you a lot of freedom to incorporate different sausages. Corndogs are just fun!

We’ll see you all next week when I have a little bit more sense and make a much more normal sandwich. Maybe.

Hungry-Man Salisbury Steak

Are you a Hungry Man?

A hungry man made The Hungry Man sandwich. Hard to believe but it’s true.

I remember eating many meals from the freezer section during my time in college and a popular Hungry-Man selection was a go-to for me. At that time in my life, Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans was a quick and consistent option from the frozen food aisle.

If you’re not familiar with a recipe for Salisbury Steak or if no one makes it on the island where you live, it was created at some point in the late 1800’s and got its name from Dr. James Salisbury. In the current era, Salisbury Steak is simply seasoned ground beef sautéed until brown on both sides, served with a thickened savory mushroom gravy. Conagra, the company that makes Hungry-Man frozen specialties, thinks that the beef needs grill marks on it, so they bought a machine that sears those on with a branding iron during processing (I’m guessing).

Not sure when I got the idea to turn Salisbury steak into a sandwich, but once I started thinking about it I was surprised it wasn’t more popular. Meat and gravy on a sandwich? Sign me up!

I’ve done a little research (googling) and I have seen that there are quite a few websites with recipes for a Salisbury steak sandwich, but I don’t think I’ve seen it on a menu or heard about it being served in a restaurant. I did learn that there have been more than nine thousand two hundred minutes of Diners Drive-ins and Dives shown on Food Network, and no one has ever made a Salisbury steak sandwich on that show!

That’s an atrocity. So I made one.

Salisbury Steak Sandwich

Not just a tv dinner anymore! Salisbury steak and mushroom gravy are fantastic on a sandwich. Add a slice of cheese if you want to treat yo self!

Get Recipe

After I turned it into a pretty good sandwich, I knew I had to take it a step further and make the Hungry-Man version (minus the brownie, because this is a kid friendly website). But first, I wanted to relive the experience of Hungry-Man’s Salisbury Steak.

Let’s try:

The Brownie spread into the mashed potatoes and green beans. I still tried them…

I bought a blue box with 16 ounces of frozen stuff in it for less than four bucks. Around 9 am Sunday morning I decided was a perfect time to steam some meat and veggies in the microwave. The microwave instructions are far more prominent on the back of the box so I’m guessing that’s what is used most often.

In what seemed to be a factory mishap, the brownie batter in the package I bought had already spread into the green beans and mashed potatoes before I put it into the microwave. This caused a small problem, but nothing had spread into the Salisbury Steak sauce or meat which is what I was mostly interested in anyway.

Eight and a half minutes later, the patties seem extremely dense like they were packed super tight leaving them with a somewhat rubbery texture. The sauce is thin but still really salty and savory. Of the other side dishes/brownie, they’re fine (albeit a bit chocolaty) and nothing to write home about. The brownie flavor is rich, but again it was microwaved so it’s spongy and the texture isn’t great.

I didn’t learn much about Salisbury Steak from reliving this experience. The convenience factor is clearly why I and many other people stocked these in their freezers. Microwaving it will have dinner on your table in 8.5 minutes. If you used the oven directions instead of microwave, this would take you almost an hour including oven preheating time. It didn’t even take me an hour to make my Salisbury Steak recipe from scratch.

Now back to the project at hand:

I had what I considered to be a good Salisbury Steak sandwich recipe but I needed a way to introduce the mashed potatoes and the green beans. After the 2020 Pandemic Christmas when we all had extra leftovers, I tried frying mashed potatoes and putting that into a sandwich. It worked ok, but at that time I didn’t use enough bread crumbs to keep it crispy.

Here’s the Fried Mashed Potato recipe that I’ve refined slightly:

Fried Mashed Potato Patty

A soft on the inside but crispy on the outside potato patty is a great addition to a savory sandwich. Remember this recipe whenever you have leftover mashed potatoes

Get Recipe

I didn’t make a formal recipe for the green bean puree because what I made was literally one ingredient. I took a can of roasted garlic french cut green beans and I hit it with my immersion blender (after opening the can and dumping it into a bowl of course). After talking to my Mom about this crazy idea she was a little put off by the green bean puree (try not to think about baby food) but she did have the great suggestion to add a sprinkling of “those crispy fried onions” and I did.

Below is the finished sandwich: The Hungry Man. The roll is my potato roll recipe that I’m still testing and will share soon. I toasted the roll, added a tiny bit of green bean puree to the bottom roll, stacked the crispy mashed potato then a Salisbury Steak and mushroom gravy and topped it all with a little bit more green bean puree. Over all it was a pretty flavorful sandwich. The crunch of the fried mashed potato patty was pleasant and believe it or not, the green bean puree added a nice flavor. The whole combination was very savory and it was more than I could eat but I did my best.

The Hungry Man Sandwich
The finished piece of sandwich art. I present The Hungry Man.

Would I make The Hungry Man sandwich again? Probably not.

Will I make a Salisbury Steak sandwich again? Definitely yes.