Lunge for this recipe the moment the first tiny potatoes appear in early summer, but it may also be made in mid-winter using stored potatoes simply because you have some wonderful leftover roasted ham on hand. (Incidentally, the first steps of this recipe just until tarragon vinegar appears may be used to provide superb roasted potatoes for a side dish.) Be sure to serve the salad at room temperature or slightly warmer. I think potato salad served cold is silly.

2 lbs. or so tiny new potatoes, a little bigger than marbles, halved
or quartered if not, washed and patted dry
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tarragon-infused white vinegar (or to taste)
1 stalk of celery, diced
3-4 scallions, white and light green parts only (or shallots), minced
1/2 lb. ham, sliced into bite-sized pieces or strips
(or good bacon, fried and diced)
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons prepared mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, or 1 tablespoon dry
(to taste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1/4 lb. salmon roe (optional, but very nice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large empty cast iron skillet over high heat for 4-5 minutes.

Add olive oil, and carefully stir in thoroughly dried potatoes, 1 pinch of kosher salt, and pepper to taste. (A splatter screen would be quite useful.)

Saute for five minutes, shaking skillet often.

Transfer skillet to oven. Roast 20 minutes, or until tender, shaking the skillet after 10 minutes.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Stir in tarragon vinegar. Bring to room temperature.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Taste carefully. You might want more creme fraiche and/or salt. Serve at once, with an extravagant dollop of creme fraiche and chopped chives on top. Finish with an ample tablespoon of the optional salmon roe upon each serving.

Yield: about enough for four

Copyright © 1999 - 2007 by Tom Steele. All rights reserved.