We all have our favorite potato salad, but I think this might be gaining a top spot in my repertoire. I’ve already waxed poetic about Jamie Oliver’s braised peas and this is no different. In fact, I will probably be making something else from his book this weekend.
In its title, Jamie Oliver calls this salad “amazing” and let me tell you, it is nothing short of being just that. In fact, I think it maybe my new favorite way to eat potato salad in the winter. The key here is warm potatoes – which, in the chill of fall or winter, are nothing short of bliss for me. The salad is comforting and filling, and can be easily turned into a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the bresaola.
Speaking of bresaola, does everyone know what it is? Because I didn’t and had to actually look up what it was – air-cured beef. It’s deep red in color, has a clean, powerful taste and perfectly complements the potatoes. I also liked the fact that instead of an expected mayo dressing, Jamie suggests sour cream or crème fraiche. And what Russian would turn down sour cream from a recipe? But the real clincher here is the horseradish, giving an otherwise predictable salad a bite and much-needed dimension. While I did my best to find fresh horseradish to grate, I couldn’t locate it anywhere and had to settle for the pre-made kind. It turned out beautifully, but to anyone who’s ever had fresh horseradish – there is no substitute. Of course, trying to grate raw horseradish is a test of one’s resolve and dedication – it makes chopping onions a sheer pleasure.
The only thing I would change in this salad is perhaps the amount of lemon juice. I would start with half the suggested amount and see where you are, taste-wise. You can always add more, but for my palate, the suggested amount was far too much. And while I absolutely loved the salad, I knew I kind of went overboard with lemon juice. And because tarragon was missing from every place I tried, I had to make do with fresh thyme, which I highly recommend as well.
Still, lemon juice excess and all, this salad is a keeper. I may even serve it around Thanksgiving, maybe even along the braised peas. Two sublime dishes that take minutes to pull together and taste big and complex – who wouldn’t want that?
1 ½ lb new potatoes, scrubbed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
½ a celery heart, yellow leaves only reserved and the rest finely sliced
A bunch of fresh flat–leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
2-3 heaped teaspoons of grated horseradish
3 heaped tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
24 slices of bresaola or cold roast beef
A bunch of fresh tarragon, leaves picked
Extra virgin olive oil
Boil the new potatoes in a pot of salted water until nicely cooked. Drain them and allow to cool for 5 minutes while you get the rest of the plate together.
Pour most of the lemon juice into a large bowl and add a good pinch of salt, some pepper, the celery, parsley and horseradish. Mix in the crème fraîche or sour cream. While they’re still hot, but the potatoes in half or into quarters and add to the bowl. Season carefully with more salt and pepper and toss everything together. Have a taste and add some more lemon juice if needed – you’re after a good balance of lemon and horseradish. The flavors will improve as the salad sits in the dressing.
In the meantime, overlap 6 slices of bresaola or cold roast beef in a circle on each plate, pile the salad in the middle and then draw up the edges of the meat as I did in the picture. Sprinkle over the tarragon and celery leaves, drizzle with a little olive oil and eat up.