The Potato & The Cow


Is there nothing miraculous chocolate can not do?

I contemplated, Gentle Reader, opening this post with an apology.

The potential source of my remorse is the subject of this week’s column.

It’s my favorite food: potato salad.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote about lemon potato salad.  That recipe is an adaptation of the potato salad served in a Greensboro deli.  It’s perfect for spring.

But this one’s quite different.Sometimes an idea will come to me, and I’ll think it’s the smartest, most original notion ever thunk.  Then, I’ll google it, and realize that I am at least the seven millionth brain to have come up with this brilliant thought.

Curse you, Google!

This week’s a potato salad that I recently came up with.  I fully expected this new recipe to be new to me alone.  I figured that once again, my brainstorm would be instead, a disappointing drizzle.

But a quick google returned no results.  It looks to me at least, that this is actually a new idea.  The potato salad that I can’t believe is really a new idea, Gentle Reader, is…

Pimento cheese potato boughtYou can boil up some spuds, and stir in some store-bought pimento cheese, and it’ll be fine.  But to really make it special, make it all from scratch.  If there are few elements in a recipe, use the best ones you can find.

So, let’s make some stuff from scratch.

Pimento Potato Salad

Pimento cheese:

pimento cheese recipe

*This recipe will make about twice the amount you need, but to make it in a smaller quantity just doesn’t work quite right.

4 cups sharp (black wax wrapped) hoop cheese *If you can’t get your hands on hoop cheese, get the oldest sharpest cheddar available in your area.  You want it to take your breath away, and when you eat it, have a little crystallization at the finish.

1 4-ounce jar of pimentos

½ cup mayonnaise; either homemade or your favorite store-bought

Salt and pepper

Shred cheese on the large holes.  Drain pimentos, reserving liquid. 

Put shredded cheese and pimentos into a bowl.  Add mayo and fold together, adding pimento juice as needed to get to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Season, taste, and season again if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight to develop flavors.

*Potato Portionboiled spuds6-8 medium-large sized Yukon gold potatoes (2 ½-3 pounds)

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup kosher salt

Fill a very large, heavy pot with water.  Add vinegar and salt.  Put in potatoes and turn on medium-high.  Cook until fork slides in easily.  Drain, and cool completely.

When cooled, peel and cut into salad-sized chunks.

*Salad Preparation

pc potato salad

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons snipped Chinese chives (also called garlic chives—use regular chives if you can’t find them)

2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Put potatoes into a bowl with chives.  Put in olive oil and season with a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Add parsley, holding back just a little for garnish.  Gently mix together.  Taste and re-season is needed.

Add about ½ cup of pimento cheese and stir.  Add more as needed until ingredients are liberally coated with pimento cheese.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Let sit covered at room temperature 30 minutes before service.  Serves 6-ish.pim ch potato saladThis goes really well with Southern summer food, like fried chicken or catfish.  It also works with bratwurst or grilled Italian sausage.  It’s pretty and tasty to serve this on a bed of lightly dressed greens or topped with a big handful of microgreens.  And to be really unique, instead of Yukon gold, use sweet potatoes instead, or combo of both.  Just peel and cut up sweets before boiling.

I hope you like this new idea about potato salad.  And I trust you now know why I didn’t apologize for two potato salad recipes this close together.

Because potato salad means never having to say you’re sorry.

But him?  I’m wicked sorry about him…

Thanks for your time.


Not a spud, or a dud

I had some rice and some mushrooms that I’d picked up at Costco.  Although “picked up” is a relative term.  Coming from Costco, I needed a forklift to lift the rice, and a weightlifter’s belt to hoist the ‘shrooms into our cart.

Just me, warming up for a Costco run…

The Kid was coming for dinner.  On the menu was pork chops with pretzel crust, and blistered green beans with garlic oil.  Since I had approximately 140 pounds of rice, it would be the starch portion of the program.  I also wanted use the mushrooms with the rice.

My first impulse was to maybe make a pilaf.  But I just couldn’t work up the slightest bit of enthusiasm for pilaf.  Maybe it would have been okay if there was some kind of sauce with the pork, but it was going to be baked.  And, they were loin chops, which is the leanest part of a pig.I kept thinking.

Some type of sauce with mushrooms over the rice might work.  My very favorite is Marsala.

Maybe somewhere in this world there’s a totally delicious, yet light and healthy Marsala sauce, but I’ve never heard of it, let alone tasted it.

It’s like Big Foot.  There are people who’ve never seen him, yet are convinced he exists.  Then there are people who swear they’ve seen him, but their credibility is, shall we say, less than stellar.  As with low-cal Marsala, definitive documented proof of the beast has never been established.My version of the sauce contains mushrooms, garlic, Marsala, and enough cream to supply Starbucks for weeks.  It’s as rich as Lady Gaga’s wig maker and as caloric as a day at the state fair.

Tasty?   Unquestionably.

Able to stop a healthy young heart by the third bite?  Yeah…probably.

So, back to thinking.In the end, I decided to try something new, and once more use my unsuspecting family as guinea pigs.  I would make twice baked stuffed potatoes, but use rice instead of potatoes.

It still isn’t spa food, but it’s not as life-threatening as Marsala sauce.

Loaded baked ricetwice baked rice1 ½ cups uncooked long-grain rice

3 ¼ cups water

8 slices bacon

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 large shallot, sliced thinly

2/3 cups white wine

1 ½ cups light sour cream

1-8 ounce block of cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 cups shredded hoop or cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Slice bacon into ½-inch pieces and place into a skillet.  Cook on medium-low until crispy.  Put bacon on paper towel-covered plate and set aside.  Pour bacon grease out, leaving about a tablespoon.

Turn skillet to medium-high and put in mushrooms and shallots.  Lightly season.  Cover and cook until liquid’s released from mushrooms.  Uncover and cook until veg are dry and caramelized.  Pour in wine and cook until it’s completely absorbed.

Make rice: put rice and water in saucepan with lid.  Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper.  Turn on medium-high and bring to boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 17 minutes or until all the water is gone.  Leave covered and take off heat.  Let sit 15 minutes undisturbed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a three or four quart casserole dish.

Uncover rice.  Add mushrooms and shallots, 2 cups cheese, half the bacon, sour cream.  Stir until well combined.  Gently fold in cream cheese.  Season, and re-season if necessary.

Pour into casserole and smooth the top.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until rice begins to brown and crisp up around the edges. 

Uncover, sprinkle with cheese.  Sprinkle remaining bacon on top.  Cook under broiler until cheese is bubbly and brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before service. Serves 6.

Since this is a riff on loaded, twice baked spuds put in them what you like to put in your own baked potatoes.  I would have put in at least a couple handfuls of chives or scallions, but they are food-a non grata for The Kid (and Petey could live a long, happy life without them, as well).But hey, go nuts.  You know, actually nuts would probably be pretty darn good in the rice.

Thanks for your time.