It only occurs to run this recipe today because you were so
mad that I’d withheld the vinegar egg for so long—and this potato salad? I have
been making it for almost 20 years. I happen to know that, because I made it
the first time for a picnic we took to this concert
. No wonder I’m so old! It’s
on account of the oldness.
|Birdy's first not-home haircut! Which she loves, loves, loves. Sorry, I had to sneak it in here.|
It is one of my signature potluck dishes. In fact, a friend
of mine requests it so often that we mostly refer to it as “Becky’s potato
salad” as in, “Do you want me to bring the bacon potato salad
or Becky’s potato
salad?” Like the mandatory green sauce
I serve with salmon, it is one of the most
transformative dishes I have ever made. It changed the way I thought about flavor,
lo those 18 years ago, when I had to scour the entire Bay Area to find the
tinned chipotles. (I ended up buying them from the Mexican grocer at the Ashby
The potato salad is tangy and smoky and sweet and, oh, perfect in every
way. Unless you’re a child, in which case it is unperfect in every way: spicy and sour, and filled with such
slithery horribleness as peppers and onions. I can tell Ben is really growing
up because yesterday he said, devouringly, “I can’t believe I used to not like
this,” and I feel for him, for all those wasted years. We were eating it as
part of our picnic lunch at Six Flags, where I went for the first time ever. I loved it! I will never, ever go back even if I live to be a hundred, which I won't, now that the Bizarro took 20 years off my life.
|Raise your hand if you look like your normal self (Michael). I was so scared that I kept my eyes squinched shut the entire time except for when I squinched them open for a nanosecond to make sure the kids hadn't fallen out. "I can't believe you're buying the photo!" Ben said. "That's so not like you." So true. But it's the best ten dollars I ever spent.|
Potato Salad with
This takes a surprisingly long time to make.
Adapted from the marvelous Fields of Greens
cookbook. I always roast the peppers, but over the
years I have done different things with the potatoes, depending on my mood. You
can absolutely boil them in salted water and then dice them, and this is a
classic and good way to make the salad, and it’s easier. Likewise, you can
leave the onion raw if you like, but then I’d use only one, and I’d dice it.
Annie Somerville roasts and then grills the potato, which sounds great. If
spiciness is an issue, you could try making this with smoked paprika instead of
the chipotle. If you want to add crunch, you can top the whole thing with roasted
pepitas. All that said, this here is my favorite way to make it.
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes (or
tiny potatoes, halved or quartered as appropriate)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick, slices kept
more or less intact.
Chipotle Vinaigrette (below)
1/3 cup or so of chopped cilantro
Heat the broiler and cover a small baking sheet with foil. Lay
the peppers cut-side-down on the foil and broil them close to the flame until
they are entirely black, around 10 minutes or so. Wrap them loosely in the foil
and leave them to cool while you deal with other stuff. Turn the oven down to
In a large bowl, toss with potatoes with 3 tablespoons of
the oil and a teaspoon of salt. Spread them on a very large baking sheet that
is either completely reliably nonstick, or that you’ve covered with parchment.
They’ll be super-crowded, even a little heaped, and this is fine because by the
time they’ve cooked through they’ll have gotten as brown as they need to, given
that they’re getting tossed with dressing, not served as is. However, if this
is too alarming for you, spread them over 2 sheets, and plan for them to roast
shorter. Put them in the oven and roast them until they are completely tender
and browning in spots or on one side or something, depending on whether or not
you’ve turned them with a spatula in the middle of roasting them (I make a point
of stirring them around once or twice). This will take around 45 minutes, but
check them at 30 to get a sense of what they’re doing.
Meanwhile, cover that small baking sheet with foil again,
oil it heavily with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Lay the onion slices on it
carefully, then flip them so that both sides are covered in oil. If you have
cooking spray, you can spray their tops if that’s easier. Pop them in to roast
alongside the potatoes, and take them out when they’re browning but before they’re
black, after 15 or 20 minutes or so.
Peel and rub the black skins off of the cooled peppers, then
cut the peppers lengthwise into skinny strips and then crosswise into thirds so
that you end up with 1-or 2-inch strips.
Now you’re an old, old woman. Put all the cooked potatoes,
onions, and peppers in a large bowl, and add half the dressing. Fold it all
together with a rubber spatula and then taste it. Add more dressing and/or salt
until it tastes really good, then cover it and leave it on the counter until
you’re ready to serve it. (Try really hard not to refrigerate it, because it is
so much better unrefrigerated.) Now taste it again and re-season with salt
and/or vinaigrette and/or chipotle puree, as needed. Stir in the cilantro, top
with extra cilantro, and serve.
Makes about 1 cup
2 tablespoons white wine or Champagne or sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from, say, 2 small but very
juicy limes) (Note: It is atypical for me to use the juice from a lime but not
its zest. I think the zest would be good here—but there’s so much else going
on, flavorwise, that I’ve never included it.)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 2 teaspoons chipotle puree
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or put through a garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
½ cup light olive oil (I use half olive oil and half canola
Whisk together everything but the oil, then slowly whisk in
the oil to emulsify.
* To make the chipotle puree, scrape an entire 7-ounce tin
of Chipotle in adobo (brands to look for include Embasa, San Marcos, Herdes,
and La Costena) into the blender and puree it. Store it in your fridge in an
impeccably clean glass jar where it will keep indefinitely—unless it doesn’t,
which is what sometime happens. A thin layer of oil over the top seems to
prevent mold from forming.
|There are so many process shots that would have been helpful, but I didn't take any. I'm sorry!|