The 4th of July is coming up fast, and on Independence Day, you will find me (as usual) at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival on the balmy banks of the Willamette River.
Imagine hearing the likes of James Cotton, Bobby Rush, Steve Miller Band, Charlie Musselwhite, Booker T, and Curtis Salgado—up close and personal. And along with the fabulous music, there is a colossal fireworks show at nightfall. I am a lucky lucky girl!
But even though I am opting out of feeding family and friends on the 4th, there will still be a frig full of great things to eat over the rest of the vacation week and weekend.
I will certainly whip up some of these dishes from past celebrations: Fourth of July Independence Day Roundup. But I also wanted to add a distinctive new potato salad to the usual repertoire, and this is the result.
The only caveat I have about making this salad for a gaggle of eaters whose preferences you may not know, is that not everyone loves blue cheese. If you are unsure, present the blue cheese on the side, and let folks add it to their liking. The salad is very tasty even without it thanks to the applewood smoked bacon, melted onions, and Green Onion Mayonnaise.
NOTE I am working on a Homemade Mayonnaise post for those of you who have not yet ventured beyond the yellow, blue, and red jar. However, I encourage you to try your hand at making the mayonnaise below. It works perfectly every time and takes only a minute to make. You won’t believe the difference!
Baby Red Potato Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Oregon Blue
This is a potato salad with a difference. On a hot summer evening it makes a satisfying light meal; rich and creamy with a real flavor kick. Or take it to a picnic pot luck.
½-¾ cup Green Onion Mayonnaise (recipe below)
2 pounds baby red potatoes, steamed until barely tender, cooled, and halved or quartered, depending on their size
½ pound applewood smoked bacon (or other favorite bacon)
1 medium-size onion, chopped
½ cup Oregon Blue cheese, finely crumbled (2 ounces)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- Make the Green Onion Mayonnaise, and chill.
- In a stovetop steamer or pasta pan with perforated insert, steam the potatoes until just barely tender, about 15 minutes. They will continue cooking as they cool, so undercook slightly.
- Cool, frig until well chilled, and then halve or quarter depending on their size. You should end up with bite-size chunks.
- While the potatoes are steaming, sauté the bacon in a skillet until evenly crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain, and pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
- Sauté the onions in the fat for 5 minutes or so, just to sweeten and soften a bit. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the chilled potatoes, ¾ of the crumbled bacon, onions with bacon fat, and cheese.
- Toss gently to combine, then sprinkle on the salt and black pepper. Distribute evenly.
- Fold the mayonnaise gently into the potato mixture with a rubber spatula and season to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed.
- Chill for at least an hour or two before serving.
- Just before serving, fold in the chopped parsley and garnish with the remaining bacon.
Green Onion Mayonnaise
This method takes under a minute and produces consistently great results. One cup of oil produces a light textured mayonnaise, while 1½ cups of oil produces a heavy, thick mayonnaise. For this dish, it’s best to stay on the light side.
NOTE If you need to save time or work, simply fold the finely minced onion, parsley, and garlic into premium-quality, store-bought mayonnaise, such as Best Foods.
NOTE You will not need all of this mayonnaise. Us the remainder for sandwiches or in a myriad of other dishes.
2 tablespoons white wine or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
1 large, fresh egg, cool room temperature
1-1½ cups flavorless vegetable oil, in a measuring cup with a pouring spout or squeeze bottle (a small amount of olive oil may be used, if desired)
2 green onions, chopped
small handful flat leaf parsley, stems removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled, ends trimmed
- In a smallish processor (7-9 cup capacity), fitted with the steel blade, process the vinegar or lemon juice with salt, pepper, and mustard until well combined.
- Add 1 whole egg, and process to incorporate.
- With the machine running, drizzle the oil through the open feed tube, until all the oil is incorporated. (The easiest way to do this is to pour the oil into the feed tube insert with the machine running. When all of it has dripped into the developing mayonnaise, fill the insert with the remaining oil.). Do not over process.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a little more vinegar if necessary. Remove from the processor and reserve.
- In the same bowl, with the same steel blade, process the onion, parsley, and garlic as finely as possible. Add a scoop of the mayonnaise and process to blend well. Remove from the processor and fold into the remaining mayonnaise.
- Mayonnaise should be stored, covered, in the warmest part of the refrigerator. It will keep for about 1 week.
Makes 1-1½ cups.
More 4th of July Inspiration from Around the Web
A quick jaunt through my RSS feed of over 300 favorite food blogs, yielded the following inspiring ideas for this year’s festivities. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Share your own 4th of July picks in the comments. God bless America and American cooks!
- Almond Corner: Strawberry Crumble Ice Cream
- Apple a Day: Blueberry Ice Cream
- Ezra Pound Cake: Mustard Rubbed Ribs on the Grill
- Food Nouveau: Asian Cole Slaw with Wasabi Dressing
- KCET Food: Chinese-Style Barbecued Spareribs
- Leite’s Culinaria: Blueberry Crumble
- Local Milk: Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken
- Not Your Momma’s Cookie: Strawberry and Blueberry Shortcake
- Savory Sweet Life: Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
- Some the Wiser: Cranberry Zinger
- Two Peas & Their Pod: Blueberry, Strawberry & Jicama Salsa
- What’s on My Plate: Art Smith’s Fried Chicken
- Cooking and Eating in Chicago: The Bacon List—Broadbent’s Original Hickory Smoked
- Cooking and Eating in Chicago: The Bacon List—Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked
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Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.