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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Salad Potatoes

Dressed up or dressed down, I'm a fool for potato salad. Throw in a few capers, cornichons, pickles, onions, boiled eggs, celery, or olives, and I'm a very happy camper. Whether draped in a puckery bacon vinaigrette, dressed with creamy mayonnaise, brightened with tangy mustard, or spiked with oil & vinegar, I'll eat potato salad any way I can. Take me to a church potluck and I'll head straight to the designated salad section to sample the endless variations on the humble potato salad.

While I've thrown together vats of potato salads over the years to feed hundreds of people for off-sight events, I've seldom taken the time or the effort to whip up a small batch for Michael and me.

That being said, I found myself stuck with a handful of impossibly petite Casey County new  potatoes that I picked up at the farmers' market. "Some folks like the small ones.", he said. Yep, I supposed we do because I completely fell for his subtle ruse. Sure, they were cute.  Really cute. Cute and small. Tiny. Petite. They were quite possibly the smallest potatoes I'd ever seen. While some of the larger potatoes were the size of table grapes, most were the size of garden peas. I certainly wasn't going to roast them with a big hunk of meat or mash them up for a one bite wonder. Nope.

Unconventional New Potato Salad with Lemon Chive Aioli and Pickled Radishes.

After scrubbing 1/2 pound of the itsy-bitsy new potatoes with a toothbrush under cold running water, I tumbled them into a
small sauce pan and added 2 cups of cold chicken stock. I brought the stock to a boil, reduced the heat to medium, and let the potatoes ripple in the stock.  When they were fork tender (about 8 minutes because of their size), I drained them, spooned them into a small bowl, and splashed them with dry white wine while they were still warm.  I seasoned the cooked potatoes with salt and cracked black pepper before sliding them into the refrigerator to chill.

I love aioli. Emulsified with good olive oil instead of a neutral oil, garicky ailoi is essentially a sassy mayonnaise. Mayonnaise with attitude. I could have used a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to emulsify the aioli. I opted for an old fashioned whisk to achieve a softer and creamier texture.  Sometimes, our modern
contraptions can beat the crap out of delicate emulsions.

I had few gorgeous Home Pickins farm fresh eggs. After cracking open one of the pale blue eggs, I dropped the deeply colored orange yolk into a metal mixing bowl before adding a splash of cold water, a pinch of salt, 1 minced garlic clove, and a dash of white pepper.Whisking constantly, I added 1 cup of fruity Oliva Bella extra virgin olive oil in a slow steady stream.When the aioli started to thicken, I added 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup snipped garden chives

Quick Picked Radishes..
I wanted some kind of tangy crunch to balance the creaminess of the salad. In lieu of pickle relish, capers, dill pickles, or cornichons, I went with quick pickled radishes. After removing the greens and tendrils from a beautiful bunch of Elmwood Stock radishes, I cut them half lengthwise before slicing them into very thin half moons. I filled a small sauce pan with 3/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 8 whole Tellicherry peppercorns, and 1 halved garlic clove. I boiled the mix to dissolve the sugar/salt combination,  poured the pickling liquid over the radishes, and set them aside to cool.

When the radishes, aioli, and potatoes were well chilled, I tossed everything together and finished with a few sprigs of fresh lovage.

Because I left the potatoes whole, the delicate skins snapped through the lemony aioli, exposing their tender flesh. While the chives added mild onion undertones, the radishes provided a biting peppery crunch. Without any actual bits of celery in the salad, the intense celery essence of the grassy lovage filled that familiar flavor void.


I'd tote it to a potluck any day.

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