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The Thrill of the Grill

Try it for Sides and Salads

BY TOM YATES

 

Sliding into the late days of summer, the hot weather teases, tugs, and pulls us outside for backyard barbecues and outdoor cookouts. We make big plans, hit our farmers markets for local produce, and dream of the beautifully smoked meats, caramelized char, and aromatic smoke poofs of summer.

Lost in the wafts of scented smoke, the thrill of the grill is real. Even then, it’s good to know  that grill fests don’t always have to be about the big guns. Almost anything can be slapped over burning coals or fire. Local fruits, vegetables, and the all important sides sing when kissed with hints of smoke and char.

Sides Matter.

I’m a potato salad junkie. Mustard based. Mayo based. Egged. Baconed. Mashed. Cubed. Chunked. Hot. Warm. Cold. Been there, love them all. While I’m a total sucker for southern creamy potato salads, my German heritage inherently sparks my  fondness for German versions, served warmish enveloped with a bacony sweet/tart dressing. Creamy, tangy, tart, or sweet, I’m an easy to please bi-coastal, tri-coastal, intercontinental potato salad loving Kentucky boy.

 

Grilled Potato Salad With A Fresh Herb Vinaigrette.

A simple salad meets the thrill of the grill.

Taking advantage of the abundance of fresh herbs, I went full throttle with an herb forward vinaigrette.

After whisking together 12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons Wallace Station Bourbon Mustard, and 1 tablespoon Oberholtser’s Sorghum, I added  2 cloves minced garlic, 1 minced Casey County baby leek (white part only, about 3″), 2 tablespoons snipped fresh garden chives, 1 tablespoon diced Fresno chili pepper, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, and 2 tablespoons capers. Using a wooden spoon, I gently folded the herbs into the vinaigrette and set it aside.

Fire.

With a little prep, potatoes are fabulous on the grill. I halved 2 pounds baby new potatoes and tumbled them into a large pot of heavily salted cold water before bringing the water to a gentle simmer and letting the potatoes rip until they were knife tender without falling apart (about 6 minutes). After scooping them out onto a clean dish towel to drain, I patted them dry.

When the potatoes were cool enough to handle, I drizzled them with olive oil, dusted them with salt, and placed the potatoes cut side down on an oiled grill over hot coals (alongside a few baby leek remnants) for 6 to 7 minutes until they cooked through and developed a slight char.

After pulling the hot potatoes from the grill, I tossed them with fresh dill fronds, Farmers Market baby swiss chard leaves, and the reserved vinaigrette. When the chard wilted from the residual heat of the potatoes, I finished with flaked sea salt, cracked black Tellicherry pepper, and tiny sliced shards of  chard stems.

Creamy on the inside with a smoky grilled crust, the warm potatoes absorbed the bright grassy punch of the herb vinaigrette. While the wilted greens and dill fronds added delicate contrast to the briny capers and hints of peppery heat, the chard shards provided pops of wet crunch.

Hot Potatoes. With a summer twist. Simple. Fresh. Fabulous.

 

This article also appears on page 11 of the August 2018 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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