Sunday, July 18, 2010

french potato salad

I could say that we eat this salad at least once a week in my house, but that would be a lie: it's more like two or three times a week. It is a definite favorite. About a year ago my husband and I moved into our first home and during the transition time (when I existed on minimal kitchen supplies, tools, and space while packing up our apartment and unpacking in our townhome) I think we ate this every other night for two weeks. It was usually accompanied by a BLT sandwich (perfect combination). During a time when everything in my life seemed turned upside down (and/or stuffed in a box I couldn't locate), it was such a comfort to have these vinegary salty potatoes.

I love love love potato salad but on a weeknight would be hard pressed to build a classic potato salad in time for dinner: boil potatoes, boil eggs, chop celery, etc... This potato salad: just a quick steam of potatoes tossed with an easy peasy vinaigrette and a little greenery crunch (parsley, scallions, chives, whatever you've got). It is served warm or room temperature, which means it's ready as soon as it's ready.

The recipe below is from Mary Englelbreit's "Queen of the Kitchen" cookbook. However, I recommend treating the recipe as a starting place and customizing from there. For example, I usually add a splash more vinegar than it calls for and recently have been adding chopped cornichons (small french pickle that packs a punch of flavor).

If my above protestations of love are not enough, might I add that my mother adores this salad and practically demands I produce it when she visits?

French Potato Salad

2 pounds waxy potatoes, about six (yes, a yukon gold is preferred here, but I have made it just as many times with a very non-glamorous russet)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olice oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

1) In a large pot, cover the potatoes with salted water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, drain. (So, I do things a bit differently: I peel the potatoes first and chop into large pieces. Then put them in a pot with about an inch and a half of water, clamp a lid down on it, and let them steam away until fork tender. I don't know precisely how long this takes, but it is certainly not 30 minutes.)

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard until smooth. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking until blended. Add the scallions and parsley (or chives, thyme, etc. whatever herby bright thing you fancy) and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3) When the potatoes are just cool enough to handle, slipe the skins and cut the still-warm potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks. Add the dressing and gently toss until the potatoes absorb all the liquid. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I should add the disclaimer that this potato salad does not take kindly to refrigeration.)

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