It seems like there are two camps of cooks and eaters in January, after the holiday season. There’s the “I’m only going to eat healthy things in moderation” group, as well as the “I’m not buying any more food till I finish up what’s in the house” group. While I flirt with the notion of sauntering over to join group A, in reality I eat pretty healthy meals all year round so I don’t feel like I have to radically overhaul my diet or my menus in January. Plus, it’s winter and it’s cold. I want comforting things. I guess that puts me in group B, which is actually kind of fun – like a simplified ‘black box’ challenge. I know what the required ingredients are, and all I have to do is figure out a tasty way to put them together.
That’s how this recipe came to be. I found a bag of cheese curds in the freezer (that’s right: buy them on sale and freeze them. It’s brilliant!) and I had potatoes, celery, onions and an open carton of beef stock on hand. Of course the curds made poutine spring to mind, but I wanted something a little lighter, fresher and less salty (there’s that group A business creeping in….) so this was my solution. There are three things I love most about this super easy warm salad: it’s delicious; you can serve it as a main course or a side dish; and it truly only takes 15 minutes to prepare. Much like I keep reaching for my favourite cozy sweater, I suspect this is going to be one of my go-to dishes this winter. My family is thrilled.
- 1.5 pounds (.7 kg) potatoes *
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) coarse salt
- 1.5 tablespoons (22 mL) butter
- 1.5 tablespoons (22 mL) flour
- 1 cup (250 mL) beef broth
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced onion
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) diced celery
- Pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) white vinegar
- 1.5 cups (375 mL) cheese curds
- Minced parsley, for garnish
* I used baby red potatoes because that’s what I had on hand; any potatoes will do.
- Wash and cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Place in a broad saucepan and just barely cover with cold water.
- Cover pan and bring potatoes to a boil over high heat, then sprinkle with coarse salt. Reduce heat so potatoes are boiling gently.
- While potatoes cook, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until the mixture starts to smell like baking cookies.
- Add half the beef broth and whisk continuously until thickened and smooth.
- Add remaining beef broth and whisk until well blended and smooth.
- Add onions and celery. Increase heat until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 – 5 minutes to soften vegetables.
- Add pepper to taste. Resist the urge to add salt because the potatoes have already been salted and the cheese curds will add a good salty flavour as well.
- When the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes) when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, drain well. Toss them in the hot pan they cooked in for a moment to allow any residual moisture to evaporate. Sprinkle vinegar (this gives the potatoes a nice potato-salady tang without being overpowering) on top and toss for 30 seconds more.
- Divide the potatoes among four to six warmed bowls (or place in one larger serving bowl).
- Ladle the hot gravy over top of the potatoes and sprinkle with cheese curds and parsley. Serve hot.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.