Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Potato, Two … Three Potatoes, Four …

Potato salad can be leaden and sticky … or light and tasty. I like the latter. Here is my take:

Boil four or five large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes in a copious amount of salted water. When fully cooked (use the fork test), drain out the water and, when just cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into ½ to 1 inch cubes … placing them into a large colander to dry. While still warm, put them in a large bowl and pour a scant two tablespoons of good sharp cider vinegar over them ... or substitute the juice of half a lemon for half the vinegar. Now clean two celery stalks and two scallions and chop them into fine cubes somewhat smaller than the potatoes. Add this to the potatoes along with a palm full of capers, salt and pepper to taste, a good half cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise, and a heaping tablespoon of poppy seeds (or celery seeds or even caraway seeds, but poppy seeds are best).

Cover and place in the ice box (an Emeril affectation) until well chilled. Then and only then, mix well, being careful not to mash the potatoes (less likely when they are not warm). When ready to serve, if the potato salad is too congealed, add a few teaspoons of cold butter milk and mix lightly to loosen it up. Then grate a cleaned cold carrot on the top and serve with your favorite picnic favorites (fried chicken would be nice.)

Speaking of cold buttermilk ... it is one of the best thirst quenchers around.  Try drinking a glass of it on a hot summer afternoon and see for yourself.  This benefit was common knowlege to our grandparents but is gradually being forgotten.  Drinking bittermilk is also often looked down on because of the way it makes the glass look afterward ... and also because of its name.  Many believe buttermilk contains butter.  In fact, it is the opposite.  It is what remains after butter making.  Our grandparents knew this.  Few of us now do.

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