It’s such a classic. Here’s the situation: it’s summer, there’s a BBQ, you want something to contribute that’s easy and can be made in advance, maybe warm, maybe cold, something rich, but not too rich, something that’s popular with everyone, something that’s filling and cheap for a big party.
So what do you make? Potato salad.
Now because it’s such a classic you may be asking, why do I need a recipe? Or rather, why do I need this recipe. Well, there’s a little twist here. Nothing outrageous that would rock the boat, but certainly something to elevate humble potato salad by adding defined points of flavour throughout. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you.. homemade mayonnaise and added capers!
If you haven’t been here for long, let me tell you directly that I love capers. The briny, savoury little flower buds (no, that’s not a term of endearment, they are flower buds) make many dishes more interesting, they season a dish with their saltiness and add umami depth at the same time. Gorgeous. Match these with a creamy mayonnaise and the acidity cuts right through the richness making it balanced and more satisfying.
As I made the potato salad on Saturday morning to enjoy over the weekend, I can also attest that it works well as a dish to make ahead of time. It didn’t last too long (because I ate it), but as it sat in the fridge the flavours married together even better than before. My recommendation: if you want it warm, serve warm, if you want it cold, make a day in advance and it will thank you for it.
Potatoes are incredibly versatile and not just in not just cooking methods (boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew), but also the flavours that compliment them. They make a perfect background for more complex accompaniments, so don’t be afraid to take this recipe further – you could always take the caper idea and go for the full tartare adding gherkins and potentially a snip of dill or grating of lemon zest, which would be perfect with some simply grilled fish for a light summer lunch.
- 1 egg
- 1 extra egg yolk
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1tbsp lemon juice
- 300ml rapeseed/sunflower oil
- Salt & pepper
Potato salad ingredients:
- 800g potatoes
- 3tbsp chives, finely chopped
- 2tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 4tsp capers
- 3 tbsp homemade mayonnaise
- Olive oil (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- Chop the potatoes into even chunks, half a small potato, quarter of larger potatoes and place in a pan.
- Cover with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. The water must be cold. I cannot stress this enough. If you try and take a shortcut by adding boiling water (not that you would, I know you’re better than that), the outside of the potato will be overcooked and begin to disintegrate before the middle is even cooked. Then while you’re mixing the salad together you’ll end up with mush, which is not the intention here.
- Put the pan on a mid to high heat and boil the potatoes until you can piece a knife through them with little to no resistance.
- Meanwhile it’s time to make the mayonnaise. Grab a food processor or stick blender and add the egg and mustard. Don’t worry about the mustard adding much flavour here. It acts as an emulsifier between the oil and egg, so it’s essential for a good mayo, even if you don’t like it. If you do like it, feel free to add a little more.
- Now with the food processor or stick blender on you must begin to dribble the oil in. Do not pour fully, it will be overwhelmed and won’t work properly, which is frustrating. Just be patient and it will come in it’s own time.
- Carry on pouring that oil in. The mayonnaise will begin to thicken and become the beautiful creamy texture you recognise.
- Taste and season, taste again, and repeat until you’re happy with it.
- Once the potatoes are fully cooked through drain and chop each piece in half, before transferring to a large bowl. If your serving bowl has enough room to fully toss the salad (stop being rude) then this is the time to get it involved.
- Chop the chives, parsley and capers and add to the bowl.
- Add the mayonnaise and gently mix together. A glug of olive oil is optional here to loosen the mixture, without using too much mayo (let’s face it, you want to save the rest of it to use elsewhere, sandwiches, chips, fishcakes, the options are endless).
- Taste and season once more and serve, warm or cold.