Monday, July 06, 2009

Mashed Potato Salad a Pallative for Spicy BBQ

Mashed Potato Salad

During 1965 and 1966, I had a friend, Carmen Hall. He, an African-American boy and I, had some pleasant adventures together. One of the them was having barbecued rib sandwiches near his home in downtown St. Louis. The fall of 1966 he and I parted ways for college, and lost track of each other. Carmen, if you read this, drop me a comment, at this blog.

I give the approximate location I first had the best bbq of my life. I have circled the place where I stood. It is now sacred ground. Do Not Laugh, or I will impel the God of Hot Sauce to send a plague upon your tongue and you will never taste food again, as long as you live! The north east building should have a liquor store in it. Even though I was only 17 or 18 at the time, we drank Falstaff. It's quite necessary to have beer with bbq.

Please note that where I use bbq in the past tense, I use the word spelled out, otherwise I'll use the more common: bbq.

This isn't a post about bbq sauce. I've accepted the fact that I'll never duplicate it as I was only 16 or so at that time and didn't pay attention to it so as to be able to replicate it some 50 years or so later. This is a post about potato salad. Or more poetically: Mashed Potato Salad.

The sandwich I ate with Carmen was soooooo good. The meat was chewy, the sauce was hot and smokey and the potato salad was the palative against the heat of the sauce. WOW!

The potato salad on that sandwich had a mashed potato character. The smoothness helped quell the fire of the sauce, as I said, and it's the inspiration for this recipe.

2 to 3 pounds of red potatoes, all nearly the same size (skins left on after cooking)
1 bell pepper, peeled as best you can and diced
3 to 4 ribs of celery, peeled and sliced (see Cook's Note, below)
6 eggs, hardboiled, sliced
6 green onions, whites stemmed cut in 1/2 inch slices and greens sliced into chiffonade
1 tbs. celery seeds (optional)
4 fl. ozs. malt vinegar (no substitutions)
1/2 cup pickle relish
1 to 2 cups mayonnaise
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper
2 tbs. of horseradish (from a jar) OPTIONAL

Timing of this dish's cooking is somewhat important. The eggs must be ready when the potatoes are finished. I used to make the eggs in the same boiling water as the potatoes, but have discontinued this practice as it is impractical.

Rinse the potatoes under running water and remove any blemishes. You should have selected better at the market, but that' s another post. Get the eggs from the 'frig. They must be cold at the when they go into the water. Prick each egg shell with a pin to allow the albumen to expand without cracking the egg shell. Put the eggs in a pan and cover by 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, covered. Remove from the heat. Set a timer for 17 minutes. At the end of the time, remove the now hardboiled eggs to an ice water bath. Chill the eggs until the potatoes are finished cooking. The eggs will have no grey or greyish-green layer. Yolks, perfectly yellow.

After getting the eggs onto a boil, in a larger pot to hold all the potatoes or most of the potatoes in one layer, cover with water by 2 inches, bring to a boil, covered, uncover, adjust the heat to a constant low boil and cook another 25 minutes, uncovered. The pot must be uncovered or the skins will split. Also, the heat must not be too high or the skins will split with the pot uncovered.

Meanwhile, peel the skin from the bell pepper. Dice the bell pepper and reserve. Do the same for the onions. The celery should be sliced in thin slices. Reserve.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain the cooking liquid. I reserve mine for making bread. Put the potatoes in a colander or bowl. Remember they are HOT. Take one potato and mash it with a spoon or potato ricer. Add the malt vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix this thoroughly until you have a slurry or thin liquid. Add the remaining potatoes, and all the other ingredients, except the mayo. Using a spoon or spatula, fold the mixture together. The remaining potatoes should be broken into bite size bits as you incorporate the remaining ingredients. When well mixed, add the mayo until you have the consistency you like. Slice the hardboiled eggs, layer them on top of the potato salad, cover and chill until ready to use. Remove from the 'frig 20 minutes before serving, turning the sliced eggs into the salad, just before serving.

This keeps very well due to the addition of so much vinegar. I've been able to keep this recipe two weeks in the refrigerator with no loss of flavor or texture.

Cook's Note: Put 2 tbs. of celery seeds in 8 fl. ozs. of malt vinegar. Close tightly, rest for 6 months. Strain seeds through a paper coffee filter, reserve liquid and use for this recipe.

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