Smoked Potato Salad

Potato salad is the workhorse of all the summer salads.  It’s on the menu at nearly every barbeque, potluck, picnic, summer birthday, graduation, or family reunion.  I’ve made many potato salads over the years and I’ve used a lot of variations on the traditional theme.  Mostly the dressings are vinaigrette (my children do not share my appreciation for mayonnaise), and there are a lot of add-ins. I’ve looked to different cuisines and themes to bring variety and interest to potato salad.  And, of course, I have made the tried and true traditional salad with celery, onions, eggs (and mayo).  But until now I have never thought to smoke the potatoes.  This was an “aha” moment in my quest for a new and flavorful potato salad.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, particularly with that GrillDome sitting out on the deck.  It’s a simple process and it adds another layer of flavor to what can sometimes be a “one-note” dish.  I made a dressing that complements the subtle smokiness of the potatoes and served my salad with spicy grilled sausage.  It was a terrific summer meal, one that I intend to make again soon.


Smoked Potato Salad
(serves 4 )
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, each pierced several times with a fork
1 large celery stalk, cut into small dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 tablespoons finely minced chives
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves (substitute cilantro if you prefer)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 chipotle pepper, finely minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from the canned chipotle
Juice of half a medium lime (about a tablespoon)
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, hard-cooked and sliced
Additional chives and marjoram leaves, for garnish

To smoke the potatoes:  Soak a generous 2 cups of apple or hickory chips for at least 30 minutes.  Drain.  If using a charcoal grill, build the fire on one side of the grate.  When the coals have burned down and the temperature is at 210F to 225F, scatter the chips onto the coals.  If using a gas grill, light one burner and adjust the temperature as stated previously.  If your grill has a built-in smoker box, use it; if not, place the soaked chips in a smoker box or a foil packet with lots of holes poked on the top.  Place the chips over the lit burner, under the grate.  Once the chips are smoking, place the potatoes on the “cool” side of the grill, away from the direct heat.  Cover the grill and smoke the potatoes for 1 hour, maintaining the temperature at 210F to 225F.  Finish baking the potatoes in a 325F oven until tender.  Remove and allow to cool until you can safely peel them.  Quarter each potato and set aside while you make the dressing.  In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, minced chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Break the potatoes into bite-sized chunks and place in a large mixing bowl with the celery, carrot, chives, parsley, and marjoram leaves (or cilantro).  Add all but a tablespoon or two of the dressing and 1 of the sliced eggs.  Fold the mixture together gently and check for seasoning.  Add the remaining dressing if the salad seems dry.  Turn onto a serving dish or platter and garnish with the remaining sliced egg, chives, and marjoram leaves (if using).  Serve promptly and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 2 days.
(For a terrific article titled “10 things you didn’t know you could smoke” see Fine Cooking Magazine, volume 124)


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