Friday, July 18, 2014

simple potato salad + bacon + onion

Summer is passing by like a bullet train, but there's still time to have that barbeque or picnic you've been talking about since winter. This week I'm going to show you one of the easiest, most delicious side dishes that's going to knock everyone's socks off at the next shindig. 

Everyone has their go to potato salad recipe, however few of them are tasty, even less cook their potatoes right, and only one is as simple and delicious is this one. This my friends, is one of the easiest, make-ahead, delicious potato salads there is on the market. I'm talking about perfectly seasoned Al dente chunks of potato lightly coated in mayo and bacon drippings and simply folded with crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and spicy green onions. Plus, what makes this dish so great is that I'm sure all of you have the ingredients to make it right now!

I'm going to start with the star of this dish, the potatoes (who are we kidding it's the bacon). Rinse and scrub these under cold water to get rid of any dirt. 

I have a problem with procrastinating, so by the time I got to making this salad my potatoes were beginning to grow these little stubs. I read somewhere that potato "stubs" or roots, whatever you call them are poisonous (don't quote me), so I took the extra step of just taking a peeler and removing them. I'm not sure if it was necessary, you can never be too cautious. 

When you've cleaned and de-stubbed your potatoes toss them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season the water with salt and bring to a boil, cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a fork goes in easily with just the slightest bit of resistance. 

While the potatoes are cooking we can prep our green onions. Cut diagonally (on the bias) to get nice, thin slices of onion. This will be the perfect pungent bite that'll wake this salad up. Plus the vibrant green color will perfectly contrast that potato and act as the most beautiful garnish. 

Next halve a large onion and cut off the roots. You'll only need half of the onion so wrap one in plastic wrap and reserve it in the fridge. Flip the onion onto it's rounded end and take the wiggily core piece out from the center. Then with long slender strokes, slice the onion going against the layers. If that made completely no sense just look at the picture or leave a comment. Reserve the slices in a separate bowl. 

On to the actual star of the dish, the bacon (don't tell the potatoes). For this eight-servings yielding recipe we'll use five strips cut in half. Stack the bacon on top of each other and cut sticks about the same width as your onions. Once you've taken pictures of your grandmother cutting all your bacon for you you can begin to make the hungry neighbors jealous. In a cold pan, it is critical that the pan be stone cold, place your bacon sticks and fry over medium heat. The reason why we use a cold pan is because as the pan heats up it'll melt that delicious fat from the bacon and allow us to get a nice crispy product. If we put the bacon into a hot pan, the sections of fat would get seared and when it cools it would soon revert back to it's flabby fatty state. The French would refer to these beautiful sticks of cured pork belly as lardons. In retrospect I should've called this "simple potato salad + lardon + onion" to make it sound more French and fancy. I'm American. We're lazy.

If you were wondering, the reason why we cut the green onions first is because they are the most delicate. The bacon is last so we don't cross contaminate, also because if there's one thing the Jews and the Muslims could agree on, it's that pigs are dirty. Soap and scrub your cutting board religiously.

I like to cook the bacon until it's very crispy and all of the fat has rendered. Take the bacon out of the pan and reserve three tablespoons of the bacon fat and use a paper towel to mop up the excess. You can leave a little to caramelize the onions with. Speaking of caramelizing onions, that's the next step. I think I'm getting better at these transitions. 

Over medium high heat saute the onions until they are translucent and have a dark tinge to them. You don't need to cook them until they're super caramelized that would take forever. This is a simple salad. Season with salt. Now we can move on to final assembly. 

Somewhere along the recipe timeline your potatoes should have finished cooking. When they're done, drain them in a colander. When they are thoroughly dry, cut them in wedges roughly half the size of a golf ball. Really, this isn't the most crucial step of this recipe, cut them any size you want just make sure not to mash them. 

Put the wedges in a large bowl along with mayo, the bacon which I will address as lardons from now on, caramelized onions, most of the green onions, and rendered bacon fat. Fold this together careful not to mash the potatoes and taste for seasoning. That is to say add salt and pepper to your liking. 

You can make this ahead of time and eat it as a cold salad, or you can, like me, eat it for lunch warm. Whatever you want to do it'll be delicious. Just garnish with the green onions that you may or may not have remembered to reserve and you'll have one delicious summer side dish that is sure to be the best thing you've eaten in a while!

That's it. Who knew potato salad was that easy, and not to mention so, so delicious. I really hope you all give this one a try. I know this was a little bit of a deviation from the normal dessert post, but regardless I hope you all learned something. The recipe is below. And as always, 



10 red potatoes, washed and scrubbed
seasoned water for boiling potatoes
5 strips bacon, cut into sticks
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 stalks green onion, sliced on the bias

salt and pepper to taste

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