Monday, 22 March 2010

Farmhouse potato salad

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

With moderate weather returning, I am finding myself working outside much more these days. We eat a large breakfast and snack throughout the day, so I need to have some things made ahead so we can come in, grab a bite and get back outside.
Cooking from scratch can seem daunting at first, but I view it as a method, rather than a recipe. If I keep my pantry well stocked with tasty basics and good ingredients, it's easy to put something together in a hurry. Not being a girlie girl, I'm a farmer first, cook last, so simplicity is the name of the game in my kitchen. Good hearty farm table fare. With that in mind, here is my method for a quick potato salad.

I try to keep on hand a bowl of potatoes boiled in their jackets. They are precooked, and ready for many applications. Each summer I make bread and butter pickles with lots of uses in mind. The brine from the pickles becomes the quick salad dressing for my potato salad. Vinegar and spices, how could I go wrong. After the pickles have all been fished out of the jar, there is always left over brine, and it is perfect for adding flavor to salads, etc. So keep that leftover brine and mentally go over your recipes - you can use it for many things.

I leave the jackets on the potatoes, but you can peel them if you like. If I make this salad for company, I chop the pickles, but if it is just for us, the pickle slices stay intact. In fact, I don't make pickle relish anymore, finding it easier to chop the rustic slices if I need a relish type texture. A huge time saver in the fall, when I am dealing with many things to harvest.

Have your pickle brine ready, if you follow this method, I'll soon explain that little tidbit.

Slice potatoes.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add half a diced onion.
Grate the other half of the onion over the potato salad. (This really adds flavor, since it will add onion juice to your salad. I wear safety glasses for this step. Refrigerating the onion overnight also will help take away some of the bite of the onion.)
Before your eyes start burning, add the brine, the vinegar will help cut the aromatics from the grated onion.

Stir to mix, and refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors meld. The salad is tasty this way, but it is a good way to use that extra aioli or boiled eggs too. And of course, mayonnaise if you prefer!

A simple meal, with simple on-hand ingredients, that can be customized to match what's in your pantry.