Warm sweet and plain potato salad with brown butter dressing

June 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

We’re in a state of happy, contented, total exhaustion in these parts.  A string of days packed with hosting showers, brunches, general shenanigans, and then a big, beautiful tear-jerking wedding for your childhood best friend followed by eating, drinking, and dancing into the very wee hours of the morning will do that to you, it turns out.  It’s enough to make you completely forget Memorial day, except in a moment of passing thankfulness that you had the day off.  I know Memorial day is kind of a national mandate to grill things, and make every type of mayonnaise-dressed salad known to man.  But, in this neighborhood we all ignored that mandate.  The day was instead spent alternating between lounging cat-like (or maybe just catatonic) in the sun on the newly’s front porch, and giving bear hugs, choked up goodbyes, and bon voyages to all the friends we won’t be seeing again…until the next wedding.  So, sorry Memorial day, we didn’t mean to ignore you, but there’s only so much a human being can physically celebrate in one weekend.

However, I have been playing around with potato salads on my own time.  I don’t really like potato salad, and I’ve been trying to create one that does it for me.  This one is kind of fun.  Probably I like it in large part because I used sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes.  (Actually, I’m on the verge of giving up and just using sweet potatoes for everything because they are, quite simply, the bomb in the tuber world).  But, I’m also pleased with my decision to follow my brown butter obsession yet another step, incorporating it into the dressing.  I figured, if what you need in a dressing is a fat and an acid, why the heck not use butter?!  And if I’m going to use butter, why the heck not brown it?!  The result is a dressing that’s rich and nutty, with a pleasant and slightly sweet tang from the apple cider vinegar.  The shallots give it an onion bite.  And the thyme, well that’s just my go to herb, especially in something that’s buttery or creamy.  It spruces up the potatoes right nicely.  So here’s a potato salad, a day late and a dollar short…but maybe somebody can lend me a dollar.

Sweet and plain potato salad with brown butter dressing

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • about 5 small red potatoes, washed and halved
  • 4 Tbs. cider vinegar, divided
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
  • 1-2 Tbs. sour cream or creme fraiche or plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste (I’d guess a tsp. or so of each)
  1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and fill with just enough water to mostly cover them.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender when speared with a fork, about 20 minutes. 
  2. Drain the potatoes and gently toss them in a bowl with 3 Tbs. vinegar and some salt and pepper (doing this while the potatoes are still hot helps them to absorb flavor!). 
  3. In the meantime, while the potatoes are cooking, brown the butter.  In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat and melt.  Add the shallot and cook the butter, stirring pretty much continuously to scrape all the browning bits off the bottom (it will foam a lot while cooking), until the butter turns a caramelly brown and smells nutty.  Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl.  Whisk in 1 Tbs. of cider vinegar and the rest of the ingredients (maple syrup through salt and pepper). 
  4. Then, gently toss the warm dressing with the warm potatoes and serve.
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