Rep Note:
Potato Salad
29 May 2019

¶ For as long as I can remember, I’ve made potato salad according to a recollection of the French manner advocated by Julia Child. Small, steamed potatoes — halved when still hot but just cool enough to handle, and immediately marinated in olive oil — sliced shallots and chopped cornichons, tossed in a mustard vinaigrette. I made the vinaigrette by following an equally immemorial formula: six tablespoons vinegar to two-thirds of a cup of olive oil. The only alternative that I was aware of was American potato salad, about which I knew nothing more than that it combined potatoes with mayonnaise and unpleasant childhood memories.

I wasn’t really looking for a new potato salad recipe, but in truth I was unhappy with the old one, mainly because it didn’t keep well. The potatoes grew mushy and dry at the same time; bringing it to room temperature after a spell in the refrigerator, I always had to add more dressing, or, more usually, because I don’t seem to be capable of keeping vinaigrette on hand, more oil. Really good when fresh, my potato salad was almost immediately thereafter a candidate for the other kind of tossing.

Something about William Norwich’s recipe caught my eye. This is not the time to discuss the Times’s online newsletter of recipes, but there it was, and I copied it into Evernote. I made it on Sunday, and it was an instant hit with Kathleen, who claimed that she would be happy to make a meal of it. (I don’t doubt her.) The real test came last night, when she helped herself to an even larger portion. (“I couldn’t eat any more!” she laughed. ) I didn’t have any myself, but the salad certainly did look, well, sparkling.

We both agreed that cornichons had no place in this dish, so I won’t be fiddling with it.

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