Nothing says summer like plain old potato salad with mayo, hardboiled eggs and green onions. Sadly, fewer and fewer people love this old-style summer dish. Vinaigrettes on potatoes are more in vogue, and power to them. A lovely way to add some flavour to a potato salad, and certainly safer than mayonnaise on a sunny day.
For this recipe, I have rudely gone back to my smoky onion pickles, like a mantra that I can’t stop chanting, a recipe I can’t stop spinning. Or a song stuck in your head, that you must get out by singing and driving everyone around you nuts. Except I can’t sing (or so I’ve been told). However, no one ever complains about the smoky onion pickles. Go on and make a batch. Super easy and really worth the effort for their versatility and strong umami hit.
If you don’t want to be bothered, just use the old trick of softening your onions by fine chopping them and adding them to the vinegar as the water is boiling for the potatoes, and add a bit of Lapsang Souching to the vinegar. You can fish it out afterwards, using a teabag or fine chop it and leave it in. Either way, you’ll achieve that lovely smoky, malty flavour without having to do the extra step of making the pickles. I just always have them on hand.
I also have the benefit of always having a selection of Kozlik’s amazing mustards handy, so I doubled down on the smoky flavour with their Sweet & Smokey Mustard.
I quickly brown some shallots or thin sliced onions in simmering oil, (à la Barefoot Contessa style) and then top the whole mess with chives, or green onions, or garlic scapes – whatever is handy.
Now, if instead of the frizzled onions, you wanted to caramelize some instead, and then top your potatoes with some Gruyere or Jura, well, no one would object! Reheat those on the bbq in a cast iron pan or brulée them in the oven and you’re a star. But the point is, these potatoes have plenty of flavour cold and can stand up to anything else just on their own.
- ½ cup smoky onions, minced fine Or plain onoin, minced fine
- 1 cup smoky onion vinaigrette Or plain white wine vinegar, with lapsang souching
- 2 tbsps onion powder
- ¼ cup dijon mustard, preferably Kozlick's Sweet & Smoky
- 1 tbsp salt, fine ground
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 3 lb bag of yellow or red potatoes
- ½ cup fresh chives
- 2 shallots (or 1 onion)
- vegetable oil
- Cut potatoes in quarters, then boil in a generous amount of well-salted water.
- If you are using the smoky onion pickles, fish out the pickles from their vinegar, chop them fine with the tea leaves, and mix them in a bowl with all of the other ingredients.
- If you are starting from scratch, place 4 tea bags or ¼ cup of lapsang souching in the vinegar. If you want to place the loose tea in a tea filter, you can remove it later. If you like to eat tea leaves, as I do, leave them in, breaking them first into tiny bits. Fine chop the onions and let both the tea and onions sit in the vinegar for at least 15 minutes. Then add the onion powder, salt, pepper and mustard.
- When the potatoes are just cooked through, drain then. Add the vinaigrette while they are hot.
- Thinly slice two shallots or one onion in simmering oil. Cook them, watching all the time, until they turn brown and crispy. Quickly drain them on paper towel.
- Add chives or green onions right before you serve.