Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hot Potato!

Potatoes were first introduced to Europeans by Spanish explorers from the New World in the 16th century. Not surprisingly, they were quickly integrated into local culinary cuisines. One of the most common uses of potatoes was to make potato salad. The Cassells Dictionary of Cookery, published in London around 1875, contains three recipes for potato salad: British, French, and German. The British and French recipes were very similar, served cold and dressed in a vinaigrette. The German version included bacon and was served hot. Incidentally, during both World Wars, recipes for German potato salad were simply called "hot potato salad."

Potato salad was introduced to the Americas by European settlers who quickly adapted their recipes to local ingredients. Originally, German style potato salads were more common; however, with the invention of bottled mayonnaise (see Kool sla, Kohlslau, Coleslaw!), mayonnaise-based potato salads have become the preferred version showing up at barbecues all across the country. I prefer a mayonnaise-based potato salad, but not one doused with yellow mustard, celery seed, rubbery bacon, and pickle relish. Instead, I prefer a more elegant version made with champagne vinegar, some sour cream to lighten it up a bit, and enhanced with onion, celery, hard-cooked eggs, and capers. Chopped chives, tarragon, dill, or parsley also make nice additions. This recipe for "Elegant Potato Salad" is just as good alongside any barbecue fair, but is sophisticated enough to serve with a perfectly grilled steak or salmon. Yum!

Elegant Potato Salad

Serves 8

For the Dressing
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad
1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
Kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced (How do you make perfect hard-boiled eggs? See Techniques!)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup small-diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the Dressing
Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

For the Salad
Stir together the rice vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Let sit to dissolve the salt. Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a 6-quart pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the potatoes until barely tender when poked with a fork or skewer, 20-25 minutes. If the potatoes aren't all the same size, remove them as they are cooked.

Gently drain the potatoes and set aside until just cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, peel the potatoes by scraping off the skin. Cut the potatoes into 3/4" chunks. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the vinegar and gently stir with a spatula to coat. With your fingers, pull apart any pieces that are stuck together.

When the potatoes have completely cooled, gently fold in the eggs, celery, onion, and capers. Fold in enough dressing to generously coat the potatoes (you may not need all the dressing). Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Recipe from Fine Cooking.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds very good. I grew up in a family that also didn't like mustard potato salad. I'm not sure where it came from, but they put ketchup in their potato salad. It always had a slight pink tinge to it, but it didn't have that harsh tangy flavor that mustard does.