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Recipes and Stories

6 July 2013 French Potato Salad

Classic French Potato Salad
The perfect accompaniment for any grilled meat, poultry, or fish, an indispensable component of classic Salade Niçoise, and almost as simple to make as a tossed salad with oil and vinegar dressing, this French version of potato salad is one of the great dishes of French home cooking. It’s also one of the greatest of all summer salads.

There is also a mayonnaise-dressed potato salad in the French repertory that’s similar to ours and this one is sometimes called “à la Parisienne” or “pommes de terre à l’huile.” The secret to its lovely, mellow flavor is that the hot, cooked potatoes are sprinkled with dry white vermouth, which is allowed to soak into them before they’re dressed.

After that, they’re simply dressed with wine vinegar, good olive oil, salt, and pepper, just as you would a tossed salad. Nothing could be simpler or lovelier.

French Potato Salad

As with any good salad, there are no exact measurements for the dressing ingredients. So much will depend on your taste, the acidity and character of the vinegar, and, of course, the olive oil. Let your taste rather than a measuring cup guide you.

Serves 4

1½ pounds small red new potatoes
Dry white vermouth
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions (or minced shallots)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Put 1-inch water in a pot fitted with a steamer basket or steamer insert. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Scrub the potatoes well under cold running water. Slice ¼-inch thick and put them in the steamer basket of the prepared pot. Steam until the potatoes are just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Transfer the potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with vermouth. Toss well and sprinkle again. Let stand a few minutes. While still warm, season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle lightly with vinegar. Toss. Taste and adjust the vinegar. Drizzle lightly with oil and gently toss until glossy but not greasy looking.

3. Add the green onion or shallot and 1 tablespoon parsley and toss well. Let stand 15-30 minutes, taste, adjust the dressing, and toss one last time. Serve at room temperature sprinkled with remaining parsley.
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