We are fond of saying that Mom only has to hear the title of a recipe -- to the exclusion of the ingredients or amounts or methods -- in order to cook something delicious. In fact, even if she does have access to the specific recipe, she will often shun it, claiming that she has no time or patience for such directives. She will cook by feel, and by whatever's in the fridge or pantry.
The other day, however, she took it a step further. For the other day she overheard two women discussing just the first step in a recipe. Mom had no idea what the recipe was, or what the finished product was to be. All she heard was:
"Boil the potatoes in vinegar."
Mom was intrigued. Were the vinegar-boiled potatoes to be cut up and used in a tangy potato salad? A vinegary mash? Pre-vinegared chips, to go along with a helping of battered and fried fish? She had no idea. So she wrote the rest of the recipe herself.
On Memorial Day, to go along with various turkey, salmon and beef burgers, Mom boiled some potatoes in vinegar. Then she sliced them, tossing them with olive oil, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper. She handed them to Dad, who grilled them in his trusty grill basket. They were lightly charred, with a creamy interior that tasted of vinegar without being overpowering. They were an unassuming lot, looking up from their serving platter as if to say, I know I look like plain grilled potatoes. But I am not just plain grilled potatoes. You will want to try me. Wink. Even though these potatoes were part of a spread that included many carbohydrates -- potato and macaroni salads, not to mention the big thick burger buns -- they were gone in no time flat.
I am certain that it does not matter what those two ladies' actual recipe was. Their conversation sparked the spontaneous creation of a dish that could well become a summer cookout staple in my family. I would thank them for it, but who I really need to thank is Mom.
Eavesdropping, recipe-bucking Mom.
VINEGARED AND GRILLED POTATOES
Mom says to put the potatoes in a pot and then "cover them with vinegar until one of the potatoes is just sticking out of the vinegar a little bit." Scientific and exacting, that mother of mine. I find that if you use a medium saucepan, about three cups of vinegar will just about cover four yukon gold potatoes.
I like a lot of char on my grilled foods, but of course, grill them to your liking.
4 yukon gold potatoes
3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly-cracked black pepper
Sea salt, to taste
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Add the vinegar -- it should just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered over medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes. You should be able to pierce the potatoes easily with a fork, but they shouldn't be mushy. Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.
When you can comfortably handle the potatoes, slice them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Place in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Cook the potatoes on the grill (or indoors in a grill pan). You can cook them directly on the grill, or use a grill basket if you have one. Cook, turning often, for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes develop a nice char and color.
Serve with a sprinkling of sea salt to taste.