Potato salad is one of those party foods that doesn’t get much of a second glance. It is such a common and ubiquitous part of any outdoor barbecue that it is often taken for granted. Every family has their own go-to recipe for this casual celebration staple, and most are often reluctant to diverge from tradition.
This potato salad is for those who like it spicy and homemade — no scoops of store-bought mayonnaise here. Instead, roasted jalapeños and garlic are used to make a deep and piquant aioli that brings this dish to new spice-heights.
An important part in the preparation of potato salad is the potatoes themselves. More often than not they are reduced to mush, more like slop than salad. Here we use mini Yukon gold potatoes, which retain all of the flavour and texture of their adult cousins. Do not rush the cooking of the potatoes and mitigate the heat. Cook them gently and patiently, and you will be rewarded with perfect bites of potato goodness — not cold, flavoured mashed potatoes.
This long weekend, step outside of your comfort zone and delve into the realm of hot chilies for a potato salad worth celebrating.
2 lbs (450 g) of mini Yukon gold potatoes
2 celery stalks, cut into ½ cm cubes
¼ oz (7 g) of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ¼ cm cubes
2 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds
1 cup (125 ml) of corn niblets (canned or frozen)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 egg yolks
1 cup (250 ml) of light olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
¼ (1.25 ml) teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of apple cider vinegar
Begin with preparing the jalapeño aioli. Set the oven to 350F (177C). Place a cast iron pan over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot add the three jalapeños, two cloves of garlic, and one teaspoon of olive oil. Toss in the pan for about 5 minutes. Once the skins of the jalapeños begin to blister, place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the peppers are softened.
Remove the pan from the oven and place the peppers and garlic in a heat-proof dish to cool.
Using the same cast iron pan, prepare the corn. Place the pan over a burner set to medium and add the corn and black pepper. Stir and cook until the corn is charred, approximately 3 minutes.
Begin to prepare the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a pot (large enough to let them have room to move) and fill, until the potatoes are covered by one inch, with cold water. Set over a burner set on high and bring to a low boil. Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until tender, approximately 12-15 minutes. This is an important step, as you don’t want mushy potatoes; you want them to gently simmer, to ensure their flesh stays intact.
As the potatoes are cooking, complete the aioli. Skin and seed the jalapeños and place in a food processor with the pan-roasted garlic and pulse until a paste forms. Next, add the egg yolks and blend on low. In a slow, steady stream, begin incorporating the olive oil. Do not rush this step; the entire emulsification process should take 3-5 minutes. Once the olive oil is fully incorporated, add the salt and apple cider vinegar. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Once the potatoes are cooked, run them under cold water to cool. Once cooled, slice each potato in half.
In a large bowl combine the potatoes, celery, cheese, corn, green onions, and jalapeño aioli, and stir to coat evenly. Garnish with sliced jalapeño.