Monday, June 1, 2009

Boil the potatoes in vinegar

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.



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.

Serves 4.


Melanie said...

I am for sure trying this one. Your Mom sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...


I recently discvered your blog through at friend at work. I know we have met before when you mom worked at the hihg school. Jet even shared your parents with my dog, Summer a couple of times....

Anyway, your blog is a feast for the eyes and senses. I want to eat everything and I am in major stove envy.

I love reading your posts - you have such a wonderful writing style and voice. Plus, I know your mom and dad so I can really picture them saying and doing the things you describe.


Unknown said...

Hi Lynn! How wonderful to hear from you! Thank you so much for your kind and complimentary words -- I really do appreciate it! And your mention of Summer brought a smile to my face...she was such a good girl. :) Yes, I think knowing Mom would definitely add another element to the things I write about her...she's a little hard to capture on "paper." ;) How is your beautiful little girl? Mom shared a photo awhile ago, but I'm sure she is growing like a weed. Thanks again for saying hello, and for saying all those nice things. Made my day!

Melanie, Mom is pretty amazing! I tell her all the time how lucky I am to have her, but I don't think she believes me.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Hooray for your mom -- I love the idea of grilling the potato "chips". No wonder they disappeared off the table.

Unknown said...

Boiling potatoes is neither exciting nor particularly sexy, as far as cooking skills go, but it is quite handy!