Chicken wings are wonderful, but Buffalo Chicken Wings are on another level and that’s thanks to the sauce. Defined by blue cheese, celery and hot sauce, Buffalo sauce could glorify any number of dishes. (Imagine how luscious it would be on a steak!) Looking ahead to the Fourth of July and its picnics, I wondered what would happen if I Buffalo’d some potato salad.
There are two main kinds of potatoes: baking and boiling. Baking potatoes (aka russets, the most famous of which is the Idaho) are higher in starch than boiling potatoes and fluffier in texture, falling apart when cooked. Excellent sponges for such flavourful ingredients as cream and butter, baking potatoes are your go-to choice when the ultimate plan is to mash them. Boiling potatoes, by contrast, hold their shape when cooked. They’re sweeter than baking potatoes and boast a more assertive potato taste.
The best potato for a potato salad? Boiling potatoes are the usual choice. You want a salad with texture and integrity, not a mealy mess. But for this recipe, you also want the russet’s ability to absorb flavour. So I opted for both. As predicted, the baking potatoes fell apart and generously absorbed the blue cheese and hot sauce. Unpredictably, but happily, they also helped make the salad’s texture extra creamy. The boiling potatoes likewise did their part, acting as bricks to the baking potatoes’ mortar.
To “pre-season” the potatoes, toss them with vinegar and salt while they’re still hot, just after you’ve boiled them but before adding the dressing. Fifteen minutes later the potatoes will have fully absorbed the pre-seasonings ‚Äî and become that much more flavourful ‚Äî and you’re then free to slather them in the mayo and sour cream.
Potatoes, like pasta, not only absorb liquid, they also keep absorbing it until there’s none left. That means the potato salad that was so nice and creamy when you first dressed it may have dried out 15 minutes later. If that happens, just stir in a little cold water and the silkiness will return.
As is, this recipe may strike some folks as overly rich. If you want to slim it down, swap in light mayonnaise for the regular kind and Greek yogurt for the sour cream. The flavour will still be plenty large and you likely won’t miss the extra calories.
CREAMY BUFFALO POTATO SALAD
Preparation time: Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
1 lb. medium boiling potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4-inch thick, preferably using a mandoline (please use the guard)
1 small baking potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick, preferably using a mandoline (please use the guard)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3rd cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or plain no-fat Greek yogurt
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (preferably the soft creamy kind)
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce or to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped celery plus celery leaves for garnish
In a medium saucepan combine the potatoes with cold lightly salted water to cover by 2 inches and bring the water to a boil. Simmer the potatoes until they are just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and the salt until the salt is dissolved. When the potatoes are tender, drain and add them immediately to the bowl with the vinegar mixture. Toss the potatoes well with the vinegar mixture and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, blue cheese, hot sauce, chopped celery and pepper to taste to the potatoes and toss well. If the potato salad seems dry, stir in some cold water and toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the celery leaves. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 215 calories; 124 calories from fat; 14 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 19 mg cholesterol; 655 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 5 g protein.