Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kitchen Sink Potato Salad

Our summer continues to be surprisingly gentle with reasonable temperatures and moderate rain.  The hydrangea is blooming the first time in three years because previous summers were just too blistering hot and mercilessly dry.  The poor hydrangea had looked as if a plant-hating arsonist took a torch to it.   Though still on the smallish size, it looks triumphantly beautiful in my eyes.

A deep-pink Hydrangea and lavender fronting Spiraea and Weigela bushes

Green beans are just beginning to come in.


As are the raspberries.


I fondly refer to this recipe as kitchen sink potato salad as it contains just about everything:  meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables.   The French would more elegantly label it as a macédoine.  A grand recipe of the Calm One's paternal family, it is a dish that it seems you either love or hate or at the very least, leave out the pickled herring.  Traditionally, this salad of Polish origin, is made for Christmas Eve.  I encountered a version of it quite a long time ago because it was presented as a festive holiday recipe in The Vegetarian Epicure, a lovely cook book I was quite smitten with at that timeI remember fancifully decorating it with a large Pointsettia made from red and green bell peppers, pearl onions, and small black olives.  Since the Calm One's paternal family were Germans living in Poland, I suspect they added their own touches.

However, the Calm One makes it whenever I am so busy weeding, digging, transplanting, watering, mulching, composting, harvesting, preserving, taking photos, blogging, and stock trading that cooking is the last thing on my mind.  We eat it straight for four days; all we do is plop a delicious mound of this salad on our plates.  He makes it so well that I just stare at his doing it with amazement.  It is not hard, but it does take focus, effort, and planning. 


The family secret is cleverly cubing the potatoes with an egg slicer.  The end result is tiny, firm bits of intense flavour as this method increases the surface area available for marination. The Calm One does not measure his ingredients so when I asked what would be a good rule of thumb to follow regarding proportions, he replied, well, ten hard-boiled eggs to one potato would not be a good one. He did say that the salad would taste fine if there is one more egg or one less potato.  When pressed further, he said, count the ingredients in the photos.  Equipped with that advice, I will do my best to approximate quantities used.  An important guiding principle of his is focusing on the consistency which needs to be very moist but creamy and not runny at all.


Ingredients

  • Potatoes, ten medium all-purpose potatoes
  • Eggs, ten medium, hard boiled
  • Salami, I prefer Italian; he Danish, ten slices
  • Dill pickles/cornichons, six small and their liquid, 1/2 cup
  • Pickled herring, one large fillet, skinned
  • Tart apples, two large, preferably Granny Smith
  • Mayonnaise, 700 grams, nearly 3 cups
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Equipment

Egg slicer
Pots
Large bowl
Knives 
Chopping board
Wooden spoons

Instructions 
(Makes enough for 4 main meals for two adults, that is, a whopping big quantity)

Request the Calm One's appearance chez vous...only kidding, here they are:

The day before serving the salad

1)  Hard boil the eggs, cool, and peel.
2)  Cook the potatoes in their jacket, cool and peel
3)  Put the cooked eggs and potatoes, covered, in the fridge

Later in the day:

1)  Using an egg slicer, cube both the eggs and potatoes.  If potatoes are much larger than an egg, halve them.

First slicing
Second slicing:  flip over so its slices are positioned bottom to top

Completion of the second slicing

3rd slicing:  position its length across the slicer with the most recent slices arranged from top to bottom

Cubed!

2) Put cubed eggs and potatoes into a large bowl

3)  Chop finely the salami, herring, cornichons, and apples.  Add to bowl.

 

 4)  Stir well, add Mayo and stir again until well mixed.


5)  Strain the pickle juice into the mayo jar.


6) Put lid back on jar and shake well, then pour into the bowl.  The Calm One never tastes the salad while making or seasoning it as he says that any taste test would not be accurate as it would not take into account the overnight marination, and yet the flavour is always just right.  Being the rebel that I am, I say, go ahead and season to taste, keeping in mind that it will deepen in flavour but not necessarily get saltier.


7)  Mix gently but well and let marinate overnight covered in the fridge for serving next day.


The salad goes nicely with hot saucisses de Strausbourg (frankfurters/hot dogs are similar) and Dijon mustard.


As potatoes do not freeze well, I am afraid all of it will have to be eaten within four days.  Somehow, I think most will be up to that challenge.

Bon appétit!

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