Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baked Potato Salad (a.k.a. "More Fun With Mayo")

In the form it usually takes, potato salad is one of the most disgusting foods I can think of. Done well, it's fantastic.

Real potato salad first appeared on my radar in reading Hemingway's (posthumous) memoir A Movable Feast. It contains one of my favorite of his many sensual descriptions of food and drink, one which pre-dates Bittman but exemplifies a thoroughly minimalist love of pure, simple ingredients:

"The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes a l'huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread in the olive oil."

I ground black pepper over mine too, but instead of olive oil, it was the remainder of my homemade mayonnaise that imparted moisture and flavor to the potatoes. The potatoes themselves were baked and left with the skins on, which gave them much more substance than those ragged, boiled lumps you usually get. These were the potatoes mentioned in ETBTH 1, and I used a trick on them which I often employ for baking root veggies. When they're about 80% done, turn off the oven and leave them in there until cool. Something wonderful happens.

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