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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

We shared our potato salad with homemade ranch dressing a few weeks ago for 4th of July, but it’s just so good and perfect for holiday gatherings that we decided to give it a little more attention, including variations with summer staples like corn and the thing the defies all seasons and reason: BACON.

A few things about potato salad: Use new or waxy potatoes like red bliss. Have you ever had a potato salad that was one step away from being mashed potatoes? You can bet the potatoes were overcooked, but a starchy potato (like the coarse brown-skinned russet) was probably the main culprit. While russets are fantastic baked — fluffy flesh, ready to absorb copious amounts of butter and sour cream — when cut up in potato salad they soak up too much dressing and they don’t hold their shape. Use what you like, but, we’re sticking to our waxy spuds.

Dicing or slicing? You can do either, just make sure that the cuts are even: as with any food you cut up, the pieces should be of equal size for even cooking. If dicing, make cubes about 1 1/2 inches big, and if slicing, a 1/2 inch thickness will do. Peeling? I like to leave the jackets-just scrub thoroughly.

On cooking: Always start potatoes in cold water. If you dump them into already boiling water, the exteriors will start to cook immediately. While the interior tries to catch up, those outsides will start to get mushy. Bring the water, potatoes, and salt (like with pasta, they need to be seasoned from the start) up to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce the heat to keep the potatoes at a low simmer.

Let’s see…what else? Do pay attention to the 2-step dressing process. In step 1, the potatoes are tossed with oil and vinegar — a very basic vinaigrette – to add base flavor, and then, the real dressing is added.

I like to eat potato salad the day it’s made as when it sits in the fridge it seizes up a bit and isn’t as creamy. If you’re going to make it the day before serving, toss them with the oil and vinegar, then half of the dressing and reserve the remaining half for coating just before serving.

POTATO SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
Serves 10

4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 bunch dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh lemon juice

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the vinegar and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, dill, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to taste.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH BACON RANCH DRESSING
– Cut 10 slices bacon crosswise into thin strips. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they’re brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

– Proceed with the recipe above, replacing the olive oil with the bacon fat. Stir 3/4 of the bacon bits into the salad with the dressing and sprinkle the rest on top.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH CORN AND CHIPOTLE DRESSING
Serves 10

3 ears of corn, shucked
4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 to 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (more or less to taste)
Worcestershire sauce
Crumbled cotija cheese (optional)

– If you happen to be grilling, grill the ears of corn until charred on all sides. If you have a gas stove, you can char the corn directly on the range with the flame set to medium. To shave the corn off the cob: set a pie plate or wide shallow bowl on a rubber grip mat or a damp towel to secure it to the surface. Hold the corn with one hand, at the top, the base standing in the plate, and, carefully, cut the kernels, going parallel to the cob with a chef’s knife. If you’re not grilling at all, cook the kernels in 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until browned. Reserve.

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the lime juice and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, scallions, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chipotles Worcestershire sauce.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese before serving. And yes, this also goes well with bacon.

GARLIC SHRIMP
This one of those non-recipes that’s quick and easy to make and pairs so well with any of our potato salads and a crisp green salad. Devein the shrimp, rinse them under cold running water, and pat them thoroughly dry. Season them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and sauté them in vegetable or olive oil (remember, no extra-virgin for high heat cooking!) about 4 minutes until golden. Add a chopped garlic clove halfway through cooking, sprinkle fresh herbs like parsley and dill over them when you pull the skillet off the heat. Spritz with lime or lemon juice.

Comments

9 Comments

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  1. September 3, 2015

    This looks delicious! All the recipes do

  2. September 5, 2015

    Can’t wait to try all these deliciousness!!!! It all looks amazing and just by reading the recipes I want to start cooking right now! The pictures are as always wonderful! Oh.., and the recipes are all so well explained and detailed to perfection. Did I already mention how spectacular the pictures are?

  3. September 5, 2015

    Holy Guacamole that looks amazing!

  4. lördagsbarn #
    September 6, 2015

    Your pictures are simply perfection!

  5. September 7, 2015

    It’s so good and fantactis

  6. September 10, 2015

    I really want to try to do this potato salad, and share with my family.

  7. September 11, 2015

    Hiya, I really like your blog and have nominated you for the Infinity Dream Awards. Don’t worry if you don’t want to participate. Check it out here https://spillthebeansfood.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/the-infinity-dreams-award/

  8. February 13, 2016

    I am salivating:). Will try out this weekend.

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