Potato salad is not a one-size-fits-all affair. There are a lot of options out there. Finding the right one is not unlike buying a new dress or a pair of jeans or (brace yourself) a bathing suit, in that you can’t just expect to breezily pluck the first one you see off the rack and expect it to fit like a glove. You’ll need to try on various options for size and you’ll probably have to sift through dozens before finding one that suits you perfectly.
I suppose this is all on my mind because, with wedding season upon us, I’ve been on the hunt for a new dress. I just got back from a shopping trip, in fact. It’s a rainy, cold morning here in Chicago (more April than June, as has been the trend for the past two weeks running) and I figured shopping was as good a way to while away the gray day as any. Sadly, I struck out in the dressing room: too short, too long, too casual, too formal, too clingy, too boring, too loud. You name it, I tried it on this morning. I will search the depths of my closet instead, I’ve decided. I will find a dress already hanging in there that will work just fine. I can’t take any more hangers, any more dressing rooms (even with the lure of their flattering light and deceptively-tilted mirrors), any more rainy shopping trips.
Though I seem to have failed in the dress department, I’m happy to report that I’ve had much better luck in the potato salad department lately. I have finally found The One. While others are too creamy, too mushy, too eggy, too bland, this was is none of those things. It’s punchy and clean—and pretty, to boot. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.
It employs tiny red potatoes, sliced thickly and boiled in salted water until they are just soft—the potato equivalent of pasta’s al dente. The still-warm rounds go into a vinaigrette of sorts—heavy on the vinegar (sherry) and mustard (whole grain), bound up with your very best olive oil.
The kicker though is this: the salad is also flecked with tiny bits of bacon and bright green snipped chives. They’re the final touch that sends this salad over the top—kind of like the effect the perfect bag or a smart pair of heels would would have on a great dress. Had I found a great dress, that is.
Potato Salad with Sherry Vinegar, Chives & Bacon
2 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 slices thick-cut bacon, minced
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup snipped chives
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, add the potato rounds and cook until the potatoes are just tender.
Meanwhile, add the minced bacon to a dry skillet over medium heat; cook until the bacon is browned. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oil and bacon.
Drain the potatoes and add to the vinaigrette, along with almost all of the snipped chives. Toss until the potatoes are well coated and have soaked up all the vinaigrette. Transfer to a platter and scatter the remaining snipped chives on top. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold (allow the salad to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it).