Our friend Dave invited us to his house for a barbeque last Saturday. I thought it would only be polite to bring a some sort of side dish other than a case of beer (the perfect side-dish to any bbq). When breaking bread old-stylie, around a fire, with friends, two dishes immediately come to mind—cole slaw and potato salad. The Adam and Eve of summer time dishes. Macaroni salad could, I guess be added, but then my analogy wouldn’t stand up. I love them with a passion and for versions I always prefer the creamy style dressing. They possess that Proustian ability to evoke all kinds of childhood picnics, bbqs, and cottage bonfires. All of the summer eating experiences I remember have been accompanied with a creamy dressed salad—a vinaigrette version would just not do for Dave. I decided for this meal I would make a potato salad.
I flipped through a lot of different recipes, mentally tasting them all. Nothing quite caught my imagination so I finally decided to come up with my own recipe. My version has that rustic feel I remember as a child as well as a nice mix of tangy and savoury flavours that I love. Grab your plastic forks, dear readers, it’s bbq time!
PAUL’S POTATO SALAD
2 lbs new red potatoes
4-5 tbsp home-made mayonnaise (or store bought if you are short of time)
1 rib celery, diced
½ big sweet onion, diced
4 rashers crispy streaky bacon, crumbled
4 cornichons, diced
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 tsp Maggi Seasoning
½ tsp + pinch smoked sweet paprika
½ big lemon’s juice
kosher salt & freshly ground long pepper (regular black pepper would do as well)
1. Peel and halve potatoes. Throw in a saucepan, and cover by about an inch of water, add about one teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes (or until the little guys are fork tender). Now, how firm you want the potatoes is up to you, I like a certain amount of resistance in my potato salad. Too soft and the salad degenerates into some mealy spread. But hey, if you like that...
2. Meanwhile make the dressing. Put the mayonnaise in a large bowl and mix in the diced celery, onion, bacon, cornichons, hard boiled eggs, Maggi Seasoning, sweet paprika, and the lemon juice. Make sure everything gets evenly distributed.
N.B. - I should add a quick note about the Maggi Seasoning. Maggi Seasoning is an extract of pure vegetable proteins. Made in China, this sauce features a distinctive flavour and aroma, which adds zest and depth to all kinds of food. I discovered it in Alastair Hendy’s cookbook entitled Home Cook: More Than 180 Recipes for the Food We Love to Eat. In his recipe for his Mum’s potato salad he noted that it gives the salad “a savoury edge, and perfects it.” He wasn’t lying. If you don’t have any Maggi you could substitute equal parts dark soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, but the stuff is cheap and available everywhere now, I’d suggest just getting some.
3. When the potatoes are ready, drain in a colander. While still warm toss with dressing making sure that everything is thoroughly coated. Season with kosher salt and long pepper and finish with a pinch of smoked paprika. Leave in the fridge for a while until all the flavours have had a chance to marry.