Tuesday, July 5, 2011

potato salad with poblano-garlic scape aïoli

There's quite a street fireworks culture here in West Town, where every other block has its own dude who has spent the last three months hauling sticks of flying dynamite back from Indiana to outdo his counterparts two blocks in every direction. You could also see it as a Modelo-fueled mating ritual where the language is explosions and it's unclear who the quarry is. The cops don't give a shit about any part of this whatsoever, so it would be a great night to shoot somebody over and over again, if you were looking for a good time to do that. We had people over to sit on the porch to enjoy the spectacle and to grill meats and meat substitutes, and my all-American bride rightly decreed that nothing could be more all-American to serve as one of the sides than mayonnaisey potato salad.

Because I didn't grow up in a potato salad kind of house (where I come from, we took our potatoes fried and salty or not at all) I had no stake in the level of tradition involved other than that there was no fucking way we were going to buy a mixture of potatoes and mayonnaise at the store. To be even more fake-hardcore about it I decided to make my own mayonnaise, which is the cooking equivalent of riding 100 miles on a bicycle--sounds really impressive to the uninitiated, but it's something the professionals knock out every day before lunchtime without even thinking about. To be totally unamerican, and really un-anything, I made aïoli, the only mayonnaise that's metal enough for an umlaut, and filled it out with garlic scapes and roasted poblanos, and did it all in a food processor, so that no purist about anything in any region or continent could be pleased. And ain't that America.

Most of the flavor here happens in the aïoli, with the larger solids involved acting mostly as vehicles for the mayo, or agents of color and texture.

Poblano and Garlic Scape Aïoli
roasted poblano pepper, skinned and seeded
the lower 4-5 inches of a bunch of garlic scapes (or, in another season, 5-6 cloves of garlic)
1 egg yolk
1T dijonish mustard
juice of 2 lemons
1.5 c olive oil
salt

Let everything get to roughly room temperature. Coarse chop the poblano and the garlic scapes, then puree them in a food processor or blender with about half the lemon juice and the mustard. When that mixture is fairly smooth, add the egg yolk and salt and pulse to mix. Put the olive oil in something that will be comfortable to drizzle from for several minutes (like the food pusher on a cuisinart, which has a tiny hole at the bottom that's perfect for this). Start the processor going and slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture in a steady stream. Add the last of the lemon juice and adjust seasoning. Put in the fridge for a while to let it set up. It'll be thinner than the mayonnaise you know even after it's cool.

The Potatal Vehicle
5 lbs peeled potatoes
2 roasted poblanos and 2 roasted red peppers, skinned, seeded, and chopped about 3/8"
3-4 ribs celery, diced
3-4 whole dill pickles, diced
parsley, chopped
s&p

Boil the potatoes to the traditional point, cool till handleable, then dice to roughly 1/2". Put everything together in a big bowl, add most of the aïoli, see how it tastes, adjust seasonings and aïoli levels. Let get to know self. Refrigeration is important--remember the egg yolk.