“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
Before you comment, I have an explanation. I know the picture above is marginal. Cocktails and soup are the toughest foods to photograph. I’m working on it. It’s not easy.
And, when I get a chance, I will take a better shot. But it may take a while and in the meantime this is peak corn season and I don’t want to wait to share this recipe. You don't want to wait to try it and then enjoy a chile smile.
Many of the posts here are driven by Suzen’s culinary team building program at Cooking by the Book. Clients want a hands-on cooking event, they pick a menu, they come and cook and eat, and I get to take photos and eat, too. Thing is, it’s been a while and no one has chosen this soup again. I’ve waited and I’m out of time and Suzen is busy testing the “next” recipes and does not have time to revisit this one.
Actually, we will. Because I think this wonderful soup can be the perfect gateway to a Thanksgiving turkey. Pictured above, next to the soup, are the Chipotle and Cheddar Biscuits I blogged back in April [April 22 actually]. I can see serving the biscuits on Thanksgiving Day. Or, I can imagine making them on the Tuesday before, letting them dry out a bit, and stuffing the turkey with them. Some herbs, diced chiles, and a shot of tequila?
I’ll see if I can stir Suzen’s imagination. In the meantime, this is a rollicking good soup recipe with a delightful twist. You don’t just use the corn kernels here. You cook with the cobs as well, extracting every last bit of corn flavor from the plant. The corn may be yellow, but this is a very green idea to “use it all.” It’s smart and something I would never have considered on my own.
Corn, chipotle, and cream. Unbeatable.
Smoky Roasted Corn Soup with Chipotle Chile
Yield: 4 servings
- 3 ears corn
- 1 Poblano pepper, ¼ inch diced
- 1 small-red bell pepper, ¼ inch diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- ¾ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Using a chef's knife, scrape the corn kernels off the cobs onto a rimmed baking sheet, reserve the cobs. Add the Poblano and bell pepper to the pan drizzle with the oil, and roast for 25 minutes, tossing the vegetables once or twice, until the corn is lightly browned.
Meanwhile, cut the cobs into thirds crosswise and place in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is flavorful. Strain the corn broth into a bowl.
In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally-until the onion is tender. Add the roasted corn and pepper mixture, the corn broth, chipotle powder, and salt and simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Add the cream and gently heat. Serve hot.
Source: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/40th second at ISO‑250