andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | may 2018
What's the best part of Memorial Day weekend aside from the extra day off on the back end? Hopefully, it's the copious amounts of food you'll be consuming at your picnic or backyard barbecue with friends and family. Some of us look forward to the time to do nothing, some are getting ready to polish up the golf clubs, and some fire up the grill for the inaugural family hoedown or hootenanny before the summer schedule gets crazy again. Me? I'm doing all three!
Some of the great meals happen with immense preparation and great anticipation. Menu planning can be arduous at times, especially if you're planning to feed a hungry brood and still get a little face time in with the family. Some creations, on the other hand, can come to fruition without a lot of planning and still look like you pulled off a culinary miracle for all to enjoy.
One of those spur of the moment dishes that can be as creative as it is delicious is potato salad. A quintessential picnic and side dish that's as American as hot dogs and apple pie. Speaking of which, what better Memorial Day menu could there be than grilled hot dogs, potato salad and apple pie? Memorial Day just became an opportunity to make a culinary memory that everyone will talk about for years to come.
Let's just assume you have the dog under control. Skin on, skinless, whatever you choose, it's a matter of opinion and philosophy and we can discuss that at a later date. I'd like to focus on the potato salad as it can be a "make or break" dish that can elevate the meal or just become another napkin filler like the broccoli you tried to serve the other night.
Potatoes in a potato salad should be at level two in terms of being done. Raw are level one and soft enough to mash are level three. Potato salad potatoes are in between. They have to be soft enough to bite into, but firm enough to keep their integrity while mixing with other ingredients without breaking apart. Keep a minimalistic approach in mind as the earthy simplicity of the potato is appealing not appalling — don't mask the natural flavor, enhance it. Too much mayo, mustard or seasoning will only hide the spud's subtleties. Use softer flavors that get along with potatoes like dill and tarragon, and leave the pungent oreganos and basil for the tomatoes.
Dill Potato Salad
In a mixing bowl combine:
2 cups Hellman's mayo
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix well. Let chill for at least a half hour.
Cook, cool and quarter 2 pounds red potatoes with the skin on. Medium-sized potatoes only take about 15 minutes in boiling water. Use a fork to poke into them. It should penetrate the potatoes but not too easily. Run them under cold water to shock them and stop them from cooking. Let them cool completely in the fridge.
Place potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add to the potatoes:
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper. seeded, diced
2 large radishes, diced
Add 1/2 cup Italian dressing to the potatoes. Stir to combine. Then let the potatoes rest for at least two hours to absorb the dressing.
After the potatoes have absorbed the Italian dressing, add enough of the dill cream dressing to coat the potatoes. Stir and let rest for about an hour. Add more dressing if needed. Garnish with fresh dill or fresh chopped parsley. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving. Enjoy!
--Photo courtesy Kelly Garbato
Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club 'Galley 57' in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.