These cheesy waffletators are the potato dish you didn't know you were missing. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

What fun we had making waffletators — hash brown potatoes seasoned with onion and augmented with a little cheddar cheese, a dribble of vegetable oil, cooked in a waffle maker. They brown up in a jiffy, have a terrific crunchy exterior and satisfy that craving for something deep fried only without the mess of a pot of oil smoking up the kitchen and, in my case at least, fogging my glasses with a fine mist of grease.

My niece gave me a present at Christmas of a new waffle iron, and she was the one who dreamed up the possibility of making something like a potato latke in it. Normally our latkes have flour and eggs in them. Waffletators don’t need either of them, and so are closer to a classic stove top hash brown: grated raw potato, with or without onion, fried on a cast iron fry pan with plenty of oil. Only, made in the waffle iron, they need less grease and arrive at very crisp a lot faster.

Our waffle iron has a dial for heat settings, and we found the highest setting worked best, plus a half minute or more cook time. Most waffle irons have a light that glows green or they beep when the waffles are done. Also, while the iron has a non-stick surface, we brushed it lightly with a little vegetable oil anyway, just to make sure.

These cheesy waffletators are the potato dish you didn’t know you were missing. Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Add salt after they are cooked, by the way. Added sooner, salt would tend to pull moisture from the grated potatoes and you don’t want that.

Definitely add pepper before cooking.

Our batch used up five medium potatoes, one medium onion and some grated cheddar, not much. We produced 12 very delicious waffletators about four inches in diameter. Two of us ate them, me and a tall, strong, hard-working 43-year-old. I had three, but two probably would have been enough. So go figure what a serving size is for these puppies.

Waffletators

Yields 12

5 medium potatoes, shredded

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Sprinkle of black pepper

1 tablespoon oil

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and toss together, mixing well.

Heat the waffle iron to a high temperature. Lightly brush the surface with a little oil.

Drop grated potato mix in each waffle section, spreading it to the edges and barely cover the indentations.

Cook on high until the iron beeps or turns on its “done” indicator.

Serve quickly sprinkled with salt and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...