Sunday morning I had a sudden and inexplicable craving for fried chicken. Well actually it is explicable. Mark and I spent the previous evening at Annie and Pierson's and were watching one of my favorite movies - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Well in the first scene of the movie, Liz and Dick, both looking decidedly unglamorous, arrive home late, late one night after a boozy faculty party at the university Dick's character George teaches at. Looking around their squalid living room Ms. Taylor's character Martha takes a drag off her cigarette and sneers "What a dump." She immediately realizes that she just inadvertently quoted a famous Bette Davis line from an old movie but can't remember the name of said movie. She then spends the next five minutes trying to figure out the name of the film while her henpecked husband does his best to ignore her blathering. So what does this have to do with fried chicken, you might be wondering? Well, while she is describing the film in question to George, hoping that he might know the answer (he doesn't) she slings open the refrigerator, takes out a cold chicken leg, showers it with some salt and starts gnawing on it, while continuing to describe the plot of the mystery Bette Davis movie. After a few bites, she tosses it back on the plate in the fridge. THAT is what caused me to crave fried chicken. THAT is how my mind works. Often if I see food in a movie or TV show, I decide I have to have it. I suppose I'm very impressionable.
I've made fried chicken once before years ago and was underwhelmed with the results. However, flipping through the new issue of Everyday Food, I came across a recipe for rosemary fried chicken. I liked the sound of that. It reminded me of a Tyler Florence recipe for fried chicken that he did on Tyler's Ultimate, in which he took small bunches of rosemary, sage, and thyme, as well as a handful of crushed garlic cloves and added them to the oil as it heated up, thus infusing the oil with all that flavor. I decided I wanted to do that. And to go with the fried chicken? Well potato salad seemed like a natural. I found this recipe in the same book as the chicken recipe, Tyler's Ultimate, and funny enough I liked it way better than the chicken.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds small red or Yukon gold potatoes
2 large hard boiled eggs, chopped
6 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 cup regular or reduced fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with 1/4 cup juice (about 2 pickles)
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 lemon, juiced
Freshly ground black pepper
6 caper berries, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Put the potatoes in a big saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until a paring knife poked into them goes in without resistance. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool.
Set aside some scallion greens for garnish. Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickles and their juice, red onion, chopped eggs, remaining scallions and capers, parsley, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes.
With a small paring knife, peel the potatoes and quarter them, adding them to the bowl. With a spatula, gently toss to coat with the dressing. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, scatter with the sliced caper berries, remaining sliced scallions, grind over some pepper, and then drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.
This potato salad is seriously so so good. It's sort of a sophisticated take on the classic mayonnaise and mustard potato salad that one can find in every supermarket deli case. There's just enough mayonnaise to bind all the flavors and ingredients together without making the salad feel gloopy. The recipe in the book called for 1 cup and for some reason, the recipe on the website called for 2 cups! I thought that was a bit excessive so I cut it down to just 1/2 cup and the results were perfectly fine. The Dijon mustard gives a nice pungent bite to the dressing while the pickle juice spikes it with some acid. The diced red onions, chopped pickles, capers and especially the caper berries give the dish a fantastic array of textures. The caper berries, a little extra something that I added, really make the dish special.
The salad would be more than welcome at any barbeque, cookout, picnic, potluck, etc, although keep in mind that the mayonnaise prevents it from being a side dish that can just sit out for hours upon hours without refrigeration. It would be fantastic alongside some really nice grilled sausages draped with sweet caramelized onions, a mound of sticky, slow cooked ribs or some sort of fancy hamburger (like these grilled pork, chorizo & applewood smoked bacon burgers). You could do like I did and serve it with platter of crispy fried chicken or...oh you get the point.