Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Monk's Potato Salad

It's summer time and time for outdoor eating and picnics and all that stuff. One of my 'mostest' favorite things is a good potato salad. After years of research and experimentation I think I make some very good potato salad--you be the judge. There are actually two variations because you can't always get good small red potatoes and you can almost always find Yukon Gold nowadays. Besides the cooking and prep of the potatoes the recipes are the same. The secret is marinating the potatoes while they are still warm in a vinaigrette either overnight or for an hour or so before final assembly.

14 small boiling potatoes, such as red bliss, about 2 1/2 pounds, scrubbed well
2 3/4 pounds of small Yukon Gold potatoes

6 hard-cooked large eggs, roughly chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion or white Vidalia
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped green or red bell pepper
3 Tblsp sweet pickle relish (optional)
3/4 cup good mayonnaise (Hellman's is my favorite but Duke's is good too)
1 Tblsp prepared mustard ( I like Gulden's Spicy Brown but any mustard works)
2 tablespoons chopped Italian or flat leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the marinade:

1 Tblsp red wine vinegar
3 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil(preferred) or other light oil such as canola or peanut
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of kosher salt
few grinds of black pepper

Place the potatoes in a nice size pot and add enough cool water to cover by 1-inch. salt the water with a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt. (hint: always start potatoes in cool water and bring to the boil) Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. If using red potatoes --drain, cool, then cut the potatoes into halves or quarters depending on size as you want the end result to be bite size. If using the Yukon Gold then drain and cool to the touch and peel and cut the potatoes into 3/8 inch slices and these slices will break up some in the marinating and final prep.

While the potatoes are cooking make the marinade. This is just a basic vinaigrette and if you are too lazy to make it or don't have the ingredients then you can substitute 4 Tblsp of a bottled Italian salad dressing. Once the potatoes are cooked and prepped but still warm, toss them with the marinade in a large mixing bowl and set aside to let them finish cooling. Stir them once in a while while you are doing the rest of the prep. Once the potatoes are good and cool(you can cook the potatoes the night before and let them marinate overnight which is even better) combine them with all the remaining ingredients and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate the salad several hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend. I usually garnish the salad, once it is in its serving bowl, with thin strips of roasted red pepper or lacking that a dusting of paprika and maybe a few sliced stuffed olives.

Variations: An interesting twist is to add 6 slices of crisp bacon, leave out the pickle relish and instead of the mayonnaise and mustard dressing use a good ranch dressing(about a cup). Makes a completely different but very good potato salad.

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