Monday, August 30, 2010

What am I going to bring?

We all go to BBQ's and pot lucks and parties where we're supposed to 'bring something'. It's always really helpful to be told 'oh whatever you bring will be fine.' When you people say this there is the potential to end up with six kinds of chips, fourteen dips and no salad. It's always a good potluck when you have tons of plates and no food.

There is also the problem of bringing something that everyone likes, everyone makes, and no one will remember what you brought. Potato salad is one of those things. It's popular and easy to make, so it often falls into my radar of something to bring.

Most potato salad is really bad. People are making it with a plain base and when you eat it you think to yourself, gosh, this tastes like mush. There's no crunch, no flavor, and the potatoes are almost always over or under cooked.

I say to you break free! Tell that hostess or host to stick it up their wazoo, you're not going to bring chips! You will not bring the mundane! So in searching for the not mundane, yet tasty potato salad you might run across some that don't include mayonnaise. WTF? Who came up with that idea? A light vinegar dressing? You know what, potato salad isn't good for you. If you're trying to lose weight, don't eat tons of potatoes. Starches are not the dieter's friend and we all know it, you just want to kid yourself into thinking that what you have made is somehow 'healthy' and what we all want is mayonnaise laden potato chunks.

Well now, we've got ourselves painted into a corner, we must use mayonnaise, it can't be healthy, but must be fun and original. Well I did have a little brain wave a while ago, and I made a blue cheese potato salad that was delightful. I think the only thing it really needed was probably grapes, so if you make it, add grapes.

Now I know some people go on and on about bacon. Bacon, bacon, bacon. Put it in everything, it makes everything better. I try to steer clear of using bacon to make my food better because when you use bacon, it's all you taste. The true mark of a good cook is that you can make food taste good without resorting to a food that masks all other flavors. I did not put bacon into my potato salad and I would advise against it. When you go to a BBQ there are already lots of strong flavors happening, the potato salad doesn't really need more. Honestly too, blue cheese is a strong flavor and you're going to ruin the subtle flavors you're trying to meld. You can't just go around mixing tons of strong flavors together and hope to get something truly remarkable every time.

I came up with this on a whim. I don't really like blue cheese, but every once in a while, and in the proper context, it is good. I don't mind a little bit, and I prefer a milder blue cheese.

Now to make truly good potato salad you need to make your own mayonnaise. My mom has always used Miracle Whip (gross), and I grew up in a house where there was always salad dressing and mayonnaise avaliable. My mom would throw both of those and a large variety of other condiments into the bowl. I don't do this, as when you make your own mayonnaise you don't need to be adding mustard to create the dressing, it's in the dressing you already made.This is a much better process, there's less mixing, so your potatoes won't end up mushed and there is even distribution of all your many many condiments. I think my mom's really just complicating the process. And making inferior potato salad. Sorry Mom, but it's true.

I actually didn't use all of this dressing when I made the salad, and later used it to make a wrap, I marinated flank steak in a garlic rosemary marinade and then put the thinly sliced steak, a piece of provolone cheese, lettuce and a garden fresh tomato and a bit of the dressing on a FlatOut wrap and grilled it all. It was delightful and healthy. That's the beauty of your own mayonnaise, you can use it for all sorts of things and it tastes so good! And since you're making it yourself you know it's made of good healthy things and not chemicals and crap.

This might seem long and complicated, well, shut up! If you want quality it will take effort, you can't just half ass all of life.

Blue Cheese Potato Salad


3 lbs. baking potatoes, such as Yukon or russet
1 small sweet onion
1 C. raw pecan halves
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
3 Tbs. organic sugar
1 C. organic dried cranberries
2 C. red grapes
3 hard boiled farm fresh eggs
2 raw farm fresh eggs
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/3 lb. mild blue cheese - divided
2 C. grapeseed oil
3 Tbs. yellow mustard
1 lemon
several dashes organic Worcestershire sauce
two dashes Tabasco sauce


Cut your potatoes into small chunks, not too small, boil in chicken stock (or water) until they are firm, yet tender. This should only take about four to six minutes. Immediately plunge into an ice water bath to stop cooking. Set aside.

In a large frying pan heat 2 Tbs. of oil and the sugar. Coarsely chop the pecan halves and stir into the pan. Toss these until the sugar melts and the pecans are coated. Turn out onto foil and allow to cool completely.

Coarsely chop the boiled eggs and finely chop the onion. Put the onion, cooled pecans, cranberries, grapes, eggs, and 1/2 the blue cheese - crumbled - into a large bowl. Toss together

In your blender put two raw eggs, mustard, the juice from 1 lemon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, 1/2 the blue cheese, some salt and pepper, and a little of the oil. Turn the blender on and slowly pour the remaining oil in until a thick mayonnaise forms. You may not need all of the oil, or you may need a little more. If you feel that your mayonnaise is done, but not real thick, let it rest in the fridge for a bit and it will thicken up.

Taste your mayonnaise, it might need something stirred in, more Worcestershire, more Tabasco, maybe more lemon. Adjust as needed.

Lay out your potatoes to dry on a cloth, carefully pat dry or let drain for several minutes. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. Kosher salt. Add the potatoes to the mixture in your bowl and toss. Pour over dressing and carefully stir, being careful not to mash the potatoes.

Remember that raw eggs will kill you, don't be stupid, this shouldn't just hang out in the sun.

No comments:

Post a Comment