Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge #5 Healthy Potato Salads From Around the World

"What's 'taters', precious?" "POH-TAY-TOES! Boil 'em, mash, 'em, stick 'em in a stew!"
- Random quote from Lord of the Rings

When people think of "French" and "potatoes", what is the first thing that usually pops into their heads? Yep! French fries! I don't have any proven evidence of this, but I'm pretty darn sure it's a fact. Unless maybe you actually are French than you may be the exception...but that's not the point. The point IS  the words "French fries" are spoken and instantly most people think four things: fat, carbs, sodium, heart disease. Even those of us who lovvve to make our own fries at home that aren't drenched in oil and encrusted with salt and are actually pretty darn tasty AND healthy in moderation, we still tend to have this think this way whether we realize it or not. Here's how I see most brains put it together:  "if French + potatoes = French fries and French fries = unhealthy, than  French + potatoes = unhealthy. Remember those "if A + B = than C =" problems we loved back in the Algebra I days? yeah that's the same thing that is going on here. In fact, even without throwing "French" in the mix, there are plenty of people out there that try their best to completely avoid potatoes thanks to their less-than-nutritious connection to French fries, potato chips, fried potato skins, and our subject today...potato salad!

This month in the Daring Kitchen, our host challenged us Daring Cooks to help change the way people relate to potatoes, potato salad in particular, by making recipes for potato salad that go beyond something the fattening, mayonnaise-bound American concoction that we all know and love. I've seen a lot of their creations thus far and have seen some GREAT stuff, and now, last minute as ever, I'm ready to reveal my own contribution that will hopefully offer a new way to think of French potatoes and potato salad. Thus, without further ado, I give you...French Potato Salad!

The recipe I used for this challenge came from my beloved textbook, Professional Cooking 7th ed. by Wiley. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all I had to do was half the recipe and from there it was simple and quick, yielding a lovely, healthy potato salad that is totally French and definitely not what you're used to.

So what DOES make this potato salad healthy? Well as I was saying before, potatoes are actually quite healthy on their own. The average potato, when eaten with the skin on, has about 110 calories, almost half a day's worth of Vitamin C, plus a good helping of fiber and more potassium than a banana or a serving of broccoli! Of coarse they are ALL naturally fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and free of common allergens. (for more potato info, check out potatogoodness.com) Pretty cool huh? So right there, a potato salad is starting to sound like a health food! Where we go wrong though, is when the potatoes are peeled and cooked, causing them to lose a lot of their nutrients, and then they are drowned in mayonnaise, which packs on the fat and the salt. In this recipe, however, the potatoes are boiled with their skins on to retain vitamins and minerals and THEN peeled (I usual keep potato skins on for fiber, but waxy potato skins aren't ideal for this as starchier potatoes usually are). I then toss the potatoes in a light vinaigrette infused with onions and herbs for a nice, but not over-powering flavor. There's a lot less fat this way and the vinegar adds enough of a bite that I don't even add salt to mine (not that you couldn't). 

This recipe is a nice, light side-dish that will fill you up so you don't need a lot. It's also chilled,
which is perfect for summer, but just to be awesome I'm also including a variation for Hot German Potato Salad to be enjoyed during the other half of the year. Happy Flag Day everybody, thanks for reading, go eat some taters!

French Potato Salad

§  1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), fabricated (How to fabricate a chicken)
§  3.5 lbs waxy potatoes (starchy potatoes will not hold their shape. I used small red-skinned and yellow-skinned potatoes and they worked great)
§  ½ c olive oil
§  ¼ c plus 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
§  2 oz (about ¼ c) minced white or yellow onion or shallot
§  1 large garlic clove, minced
§  ¼ c chopped parsley
§  2 tsp dried tarragon
§  Salt, to taste
§   Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.       Place the whole potatoes in a large stockpot or Dutch oven and cover them with water. Bring to boil and cook for 25-30 min, until tender, but NOT mushy (remember, they will continue to cook as they cool!) The skins should be cracked and beginning to peel off. Drain and let them cool until easy to handle. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by combining all the other ingredients except the salt and pepper.
2.       Use your fingers and peel off as much of the skins as possible from the potatoes without marring the flesh, then slice the potatoes about ¼ thick and place in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss gently to coat.
3.      Refrigerate the salad until chilled. Before serving, stir the salad again to get the dressing from the bottom over the rest. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

I used a combination of red and yellow waxy
potatoes, but it doesn't matter than much
in the appearance because they skin gets
peeled off anyways

Potatoes are different from pasta and veggies
in that you place them in room temp water
and THEN bring it to a boil so that you do
not end up with mushy edges and a hard center

This dressing could be considered an unemulsified
vinaigrette because the oil and the vinegar
quickly separate from each other without
an emulsifier to keep them together

You really want the onion and garlic minced
finely here so that you don't get a big bite of
either one... blech

When thoroughly cooked, the skin should be
papery and peeling like this ^ so it is easy to
just pull off with your fingers. This is a great
job to give kids!

The slices also make this salad look a little fancy
than the typical cubes...I think

Mix it gently so as not to break up your nice

Did you ever think potato salad could be
healthy AND pretty?

PS: Oh and I do know that French fries are NOT French in case there was any doubt!


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