“Making potato salad,” Suzen said to me a couple of weeks ago. It was a statement, not a question. And, it was pretty obvious. I had emptied out half the pantry and the refrigerator. Vinegars, two of them. Pickles, real ones and jalapenos. Mayo, mustard. Bacon was cooking. Eggs were being hard boiled. I had chives and scallions both out and was dicing them up.
Making potato salad can be a major project. Too major at times. I wanted to try a different tact, one that was equally flavor filled and yet a snap to prepare. And less messy.
It’s fall, or so the trees and fading ferns tell me. The summer heat has made the corn sweet, and it struck me that combining that fall corn with potatoes might prove interesting.
Rather than vinegar and pickles for accenting the flavor, I went to my key player: chipotle. But, but, I know, you see jalapeno everywhere these days. The intense flavor seems to waft down the street from every kitchen window and restaurant door. Ah, but what if you use just a little, really little chipotle. Just a hint of flavor that can blend and meld with the other ingredients — and not dominate the entire dish.
That’s what I’ve created here. The dressing is thick and rich because I employ crème fraiche along with the mayo and just a touch of sour cream — remember, the idea here is not to be too sour.
At the end of the list of ingredients, I do include the usual but optional suspects. You can try this recipe without any of them, or depending on your imagination and compulsions, you can augment your salad to your personal delight.
For this recipe, I’ve suggested using only one ear of corn, for accent in color and a touch of flavor. You can certainly go with two or three ears here to make this a more intense corn-potato mixture.
As always, potato salad only gets better with age. If only that were true for the rest of us!
Brian’s Very Simple Potato and Corn Salad
Yield: serves 6
- 2 large russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
- 1 ear of corn, or more if you desire
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and diced
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup crème fraiche
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 small chipotle chile, with attached adobo sauce
- Options: scallions, herbs, chives, pickles, hardboiled egg, crumbled bacon, vinegar, …
Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and place the two potatoes in the saucepan. Turn on the heat, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are thoroughly cooked: a knife can easily pass through the potatoes. Remove from the heat, and fill the saucepan with cold water. When the potatoes are cool, put them in a metal bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.
Cook the ear of corn. I use the microwave method: put the whole ear in the microwave for 4 minutes. When cooked, removed the kernels from the ear and allow to cool.
Dice the onion. Dice the chilled potatoes and combine both in a large bowl. Add the cooled corn kernels.
In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, and sour cream. Whisk to mix.
Finely chop the chipotle. It will more likely “mush” instead of easily chop. That fine. Add the chipotle and all the attached adobo sauce to the whished mayo mixture.
Pour half the mayo-chipotle mixture over the potato-corn mixture. Gently mix with a rubber spatula. Season with salt. Add more of the mayo-chipotle mixture to reach the desired level of dressing density. The picture above was taken with only half the dressing applied. And, and, I added the corn kernels after putting on the dressing. You may want this “prettiness” or you may want the chipotle tang applied to everything.
Place the salad in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld and refine.
Source: Brian O’Rourke
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/40th second at ISO‑250
People often bring things to a holiday party. For post-Thanksgiving party, Cynthia Beckman brought the centerpiece. It would be an vast understatement to say Cynthia is a decorating genius. It help, of course, that she simply loves making anything she is around beautiful.
Cynthia’s centerpiece concept here is elegant, rich, and simply. First, get some plastic wrap. Yes, plastic wrap. The evergreen branches you lie down can scratch a surface or leave residue that will drive you nuts. So, here’s the centerpiece plan:
- Line the center strip of the table with plastic wrap
- Top the plastic wrap with overlapping evergreen branches, ideally freshly cut and fragrant
- Dot the branches with fruit for color contrast: apples, oranges, pomegranates, pears, …
- Add pine cones, of course
- If you wish, add some candles but be careful of placement and fire concerns with those branches
It all works. And, it’s portable. This dining room array for our Olive house went home the next day to New York City where it sits on a side buffet. Yes, we need to refresh the branches now and then but this easy yet stunning decoration will carry us through the holidays.