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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipes: Fourmilab Can't Fail Potato Salad

Ingredient Quantity
New boiling potatoes 1 kg
Red onion 1 medium
Hard boiled eggs 4 medium
Mayonnaise to taste
Salt to taste
Coarse ground pepper to taste

The potatoes should be of the “waxy”, “firm”, or “boiling” variety, not starchy baking potatoes. If you use small, “new” potatoes, you can leave the skin on. Potatoes sold for raclette are ideal, and usually come in a one kilogram bag, just what you need.

As a passionate believer in division of labour, I buy “pique-nique” eggs already hard boiled. These often run to the small side, and if they're seriously dinky, you might want to use five instead of four. If you prefer to boil your own eggs, here are foolproof instructions.

After washing the potatoes, if necessary, place them in a pan and cover with cold water, then bring to a boil. After the water is boiling, reduce the heat until it's just barely boiling, cover the pan, and allow to cook for between 15 and 30 minutes depending upon the size of the potatoes. To check whether the potatoes are done, poke one of the larger ones with a fork; if there's no hard centre, it's done.

Pour the cooked potatoes into a colander and allow to drain, dry, and come to room temperature. Slice the potatoes into chunks about half a centimetre thick. If you're using large potatoes, cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. Place the sliced potatoes into a salad bowl. Peel the eggs and wash and dry, if necessary, to get rid of any lingering bits of shell. Slice the eggs with an egg slicer like this one. I slice each egg, then rotate the slices 90° and slice again to make little cubical bits. If you prefer larger slices, just use the original slices. Add the eggs to the potatoes in the bowl. Peel and chop the onion and add to the bowl. I will often add between five and seven red radishes (depending on their size), finely chopped, for zest and crunchiness, but they are not canonical.

Mix everything well with a large spoon, cover, and refrigerate. I prefer to store potato salad this way (it will keep for several days in the frigo) and add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to taste when it is served. That way each person can decide for themselves how much lubrication and seasoning they desire.

Seasoning at the table allows individual experimentation with zesty options. Things you might want to try include a little dollop of Dijon mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper (don't overdo it!), chopped fresh chives, and bacon salt. All are yummy additions, but not all at the same time!

Posted at June 29, 2010 00:39