why are impromptu get togethers always the best?
memorial day wasn’t entirely impromptu, as we knew the holiday warranted a day of grilling…i’ll give it that, but it just felt so carefree and unexpected. as the evening approached, we passed a few texts back and forth to our friends asking when to start the festivities. this statement shouldn’t seem odd to you, until i continue on to say we live approximately 25 feet from one another!
the night was perfect. flowers cut from our entry, a vintage tablecloth my mom recently bestowed upon me, and a mismatch of plates, jars, drinks and food from two households coming together.
let’s be honest. i am so thankful for the real reasons behind memorial day, but for the 4 of us, we were comprised of two culinary grads and two hungry significant others, so a lot of it was about the food.
what a perfect way to kick off the summer than with briquettes, burgers, and beer. laura offered a killer cole slaw including apples and red onions that you just had to keep eating, even though you told yourself many bites ago that you were full. and wil whipped up a potato salad inspired by one of the plates laurelhurst market sent to our table on our anniversary dinner a couple nights before. and who could decide between having just a burger or hot dog? none of us!
gone was the thick mayonnaise based gloppy stuff we all know and love, but the german variation with small golden dutch potatoes and a light mustardy vinaigrette and herbs. and to bring it up another couple notches were cubes of country pate and peels of fresh asparagus. heaven in a bowl!
in the last few minutes of the afternoon with wil mowing the lawn before we took it over with tables and chairs, he informed me how to cold poach potatoes, and i thought it was important to share. the process is somewhat tedious in that it takes a long time and there are no hard & fast time limits, but the results are WORTH IT! your potatoes won’t be mushy, will keep a sharp shape when tossed, and will be the perfect texture, even a couple days later.
how to cold poach potatoes
1. make sure potatoes are relatively the same size (whether you cut them in quarters, halves, or whole)
2. place in pot, covered with cold water & lots of salt)
3. turn heat to medium
4. turn heat when it comes to just barely a simmer (this will take a long time)
5. let it sit in hot liquid (still on low), until potatoes are just done, careful to not let them overcook
6. drain water, lay potatoes on sheet pan and immediately place in fridge, resting and cooling until you assemble the salad (could be done in advance)
potato salad components
1 1/2 lb dutch yellow/baby yukon/’new’ potatoes
5 asparagus spears, shaved
1/2 lb country pate (since this can be a $$$ ingredient, a summer sausage would work well too)
1/4 cup carrot top leaves
1 tablespoon fresh green garlic (chopped like a green onion)
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 shallot, julienned
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon fat*
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch or two black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
melt bacon fat in a nearby saucepan to make pourable. whisk all ingredients in a bowl together, making sure everything is emulsified.
*most times we make bacon for breakfast, we pour the fat drippings (pouring only the clear clean fat, without all the bacony bits on the bottom of the pan) into a little jar and toss in the fridge. if we were eating it all the time i’d have cause for concern, but here and there we toss in a pat of bacon fat instead of butter or oil, while sautéing things just to deepen the flavors. or if you wanted to make a day out of rendering lots of lard, you could make cookies!