0622 Potato Salad

Potato Salad with Horseradish & Bresaola
photo by sassyradish

The culinary theme of our Rockford reception, held this past weekend, was BBQ.  My family ordered the pulled pork and brisket, made (or modified) the salads, and got the bread and baked goods from various favorite spots around town.  Everything was delicious – and as always, we had plentiful leftovers, some of which made the trip back to Michigan with us carefully packed in ice.  We’ve been revisiting those leftovers for lunch and snacks the last two days, and let me tell you, that’s a damned fine way to eat.

Which brings me around to the subject of today’s post: potato salad.  Any cookout salad, really, but potato salad in particular.

Potato Salad
photo by FotoosVanRobin

I would imagine that there are approximately as many varieties of potato salad as there are types of potatoes (Wikipedia tells me 4,000+!).  You can do your potatoes up with vinegar, bacon, mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, onions, horseradish, celery, and every kind of herb and spice you can imagine in any possible combination.  Some people cube their taters, while others like them sliced thin, while still others smash ’em up so that the salad falls somewhere closer to mashed potatoes.

Tolan's mom's potato salad
photo by Panem et Circenses

While each of these varieties has its place, my family’s potato salads tend to fall in the mayo-and-mustard camp.  Not too much mayo, though, or you lose the essence of the potato itself. Most store-bought potato salads go overboard on the mayo front – in fact, when Mom ordered the potato salad, she asked for lighter mayo, and was told they couldn’t do it? That’s OK, she said, we’ll just doctor it up at home.  And she did.  And when I ate the last of the potato salad today for lunch, I was truly sad.

Classic Potato Salad
Recipe from my grandma, Kay Fesenmeyer

Combine the following in a large bowl:
4 cups cooked and cubed red potatoes
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the following, then stir into the potato mixture:
1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s, and don’t even THINK about using Miracle Whip)
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
1 teaspoon mustard (more to taste)
1/2 cup dill relish (sweet relish is an abomination) or chopped up dill pickles

You can serve this up while the potatoes are still warm, or let it chill out in the fridge for awhile.  Either way it’ll be delicious.

0325 Pulled Pork OMG

I’m not sure how long ago I bookmarked this recipe, but The Time Had Come for pulled pork.  As with the last time I made a crock pot meal, though, I didn’t factor in that The Time would be 6am.

That’s right, if you’d been at our house this morning, you would’ve seen me browning a pork shoulder at 6am in order to get it into the crock pot and me onto the bus on time for a weirdly scheduled day.  It went something like this: start the oil, open cat food cats, put pork shoulder in hot oil, spoon cat food into dishes and distribute, turn pork shoulder, take soaked oats out of the fridge and warm in microwave, turn pork shoulder, chop vegetables between bites of oatmeal, turn pork shoulder, add veg to crock pot, add pork shoulder to crock pot.

Pop open beer.

Do not drink beer.

Use beer to deglaze pan while using hot water to deglaze oatmeal bowl.  Add rest of beer and pan drippings but NOT oatmeal water to crock pot.  Realize that 8 hours from 6:30 is 2:30, which is 2 hours before I’ll be home.  Wake up Shane to tell him to turn the crock pot on when he gets up.  Stick reminder note on bathroom mirror.

Run out the door in time to catch the bus, pick up some coffee, and roll into work at 7:30.  Return after 10 hours to a house resplendent with smells of pulled pork.  Commence drooling.

Amy, Adam, and their two girls – including tiny baby Erica! – joined us for dinner, and we shared the pulled pork, along with crusty Rustic Italian bread from Zingerman’s, a green salad, and my carrot jam, thinned with vinegar to make a slaw (just like I thought it would!).  We also ate cookies and read stories, but I’ll save that for another post.

Recipes:
Pulled Pork from Dinner with Julie

0207 Pulled Pork at Smoque

A few weeks ago, we made our inaugural trips to both Detroit and Slows Bar-B-Q, returning home with glowing things to say about both.  I posted a review on Yelp talking about our really positive (and delicious) experience at Slows, and almost immediately received a note back from another Yelper, telling me that Slows was good, but Smoque was “10x better”.  So, when Keem suggested that we go to Smoque for lunch for delicious, delicious BBQ, I was suitably intrigued.  AND also hungry.

We met up with Angie and Laurie at Smoque on a sunny Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, our mouths watering by the time we walked in the door.  A number of people were in and out picking up Super Bowl catering orders while we made our selections – in fact, about half of the restaurant was blocked off for Super Bowl pick-ups – and justifiably so, as this is just the kind of grub I’d want at my Super Bowl party, were I to have one.  We all settled on pulled pork sandwiches, available in the full or half size, with varying sides.  I had a vinegary cole slaw and a very large bag of hand-cut fries that we all shared – in addition, the others tried the cornbread and the macaroni and cheese, both baked in little foil ramekins.  Our sandwiches came with a bit of tangy sauce ladled over the top and a small cup of vinegary sauce to add at our discretion.  For me, the half sandwich, shared sides, and a soda were just the right size for lunch – though I regretted not being able to try the brisket (available chopped or sliced) and the various ribs on the menu.

How does it compare to Slows?  In my non-expert opinion, I’d say they’re just different animals.  Slows has a more expansive menu, but what Smoque does, it does well.  I liked having more sauce options at Slows, but I also liked the simplicity of the Smoque experience.  I felt like the meat was more flavorful at Slows, but I liked being able to get a half portion AND sides for a lower price at Smoque.  BBQ is something many people take seriously, and I am not one of them, but I am grateful that Slows is nearby, and that I can visit Smoque whenever I’m in Chicago.

0123 Detroit

I would tell you about tonight’s dinner, except that there really wasn’t much dinner to speak of. We made our first trip to Detroit proper today, and as is the challenge in any new city, we had about five times as many restaurants to visit as we had meals to eat.  Some time ago, we realized that restaurant meals are generally just too damned big for either of us to enjoy without guilt, especially if salads, drinks, or dessert are in play. We also realized that splitting meals means we can try more things – definitely a good strategy when, as in Detroit, we had more things to eat than could be reasonably managed in one day.

Our first stop was Slows Bar-B-Q, where we split an amazing pulled pork sandwich and Shane enjoyed a remarkable pour of Bell’s Expedition Stout off the firkin cask.  The meat was tender and flavorful, the flavor only enhanced by the array of sauces available for (liberal) application at your discretion.  I really can’t wait to go back to Slows – Shane said that it alone was worth the trip.

Our second food stop was at Supino Pizza, located in the Eastern Market complex.  We split the only slice they had on hand – a very thin piece of cheese with a crispy crust.  Other diners were folding their pizza New York style – with just have a slice each, we weren’t able to enjoy the full experience – or the amazing line-up of other zas.  Another must-return location!

Finally, after wandering around the Cass Corridor for a bit, we grabbed a couple of beers and a pot of crab dip at Motor City Brewing Works.  The beers were unremarkable – I think Shane’s going to review his – but I enjoyed the crab dip, hot and bubbly with a bit of a bite.  I continued scraping the little pot with my spoon long after all salvageable dip was gone.

Detroit, you were delicious, and I can’t wait to visit you again.