Monday, June 21, 2010

In the Markets Now: New Potatoes

I love potatoes. And I especially love local, organic, newly-dug potatoes that are so tender and flavorful, that they need little to no adornment. We have been getting some amazing yellow-fleshed potatoes from a local farm since early spring, and last week, we made our first visit of the season up to St-Chrysostome, QC, to the Friday night farmer's market where we procured, among other things, several pounds of lovely new (white) potatoes.

We prepared some of them old-school style--drizzled in olive oil, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven. Yum! But I also wanted to make a potato salad with some of them, and I didn't want the sort that was so laden with various veggies and eggs and a heavy, mayo-based dressing that you couldn't taste the simple, wonderful sweetness of the potatoes themselves. So I went searching for a simple, but still very flavorful potato salad. What I found was an heirloom recipe from Ruth Reichl, former editor-in-chief of the much-missed Gourmet Magazine, her Aunt Birdie's famous potato salad. With only five ingredients (not counting salt and pepper, of course), it's downright spartan, but it's simply delicious. It has a sweetened, vinegar-based dressing in the Germanic tradition, and it's the type of dish that gets better the longer it sits--the next day for sure, and day three is best, if it lasts that long!

The only thing I would add to Aunt Birdie's fine recipe is something fresh and herby. I have used parsley and also dill, which are readily available at this time of year, and both are lovely additions to the salad (chives would be good, too). And this is another fine picnic/potluck/BBQ recipe, as it's wonderful hot, room temperature or cold, and you don't have to worry about mayonnaise spoiling in the hot summer sun (if YOU have any of that phenomenon--we haven't seen much of it yet this year, and in point of fact, as I write this post, we have a fire burning in the wood stove, at the end of June!).

Aunt Birdie's Potato Salad
(Source: adapted from Mmmmm: A Feastiary, by Ruth Reichl)

3 pounds small potatoes
1 or 2 onions, chopped (2 onions?? half of one onion was enough for me!)

salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (I doubled this=2 T)
1/2 cup white vinegar (I think apple cider vinegar would be good, too)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
*Optional: add 1/4 cup or so of chopped fresh herbs of your choice

Boil potatoes in jackets. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice. (Slice rather thickly, and don't cut the slices further. They will break up too much as you mix the you can see in my pictures.)

Cut onions and mix into the potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Over this, add oil and mix.

Dilute vinegar with a little water (I didn't dilute--I think this is a holdover from "the old days" when vinegar was a lot stronger), bring to a boil and add this while hot over the potatoes. Add herbs, if using, and mix well. You may serve immediately, but it is much better if you let it sit overnight!


Mandi said...

I need to remember not to read your blog when I haven't eaten. Now I'm hungry! The potatoes look awesome!

Amy B. @ Foodista said...

I dont know if I'm just really biased over salads, but potato salad is a big YESSS for me! Love it! Ive always been trying different ways and recipes on how to make one, so thanks for sharing this one. I'm gonna try this version next time. I also wanna share this to my friends in Foodista just if you won't mind? If you could just add the foodista widget for new potatoes, then that should do it! Please keep on sharing! xx Cheers, Amy from Australia