Juicy, grilled churrasco. Check. Cool, refreshing aguas frescas. Check. Jewel-toned paletas and a creamy flan? Check. All that’s missing in your tasty summer time barbeque menu? An ideal side. Enter the potato salad.
It’s a family favorite throughout the Caribbean – an example of Euro-Latin fusion at its very best. Legend has it that the Dominican ensalada rusa (with red beets and creamy green peas), is actually in fact, a creative twist on a “Russian” salad created at a luxurious restaurant in Moscow at the turn of the 19th century that somehow found its place on the island as a summertime and holiday staple. And in Peru, the dish amps up its native produce – the potato – with the spicy-sweet addition of aji chili peppers.
However you prefer yours (the Cuban-style version usually includes crisp, fried bacon, the salty tang of olives and often, a dash of habanero sauce), it’s no secret that a cool, potato salad is the perfect accompaniment to summer’s grilled meats and sweet desserts. And we love Mexican chef Marcela Valladolid’s take on the classic, with its nod to classic south of the border flavors like seasonal, crisp grilled corn and mild poblano chiles.
Marcella Valladolid’s Poblano Potato Salad
2 pounds baby red or new potatoes, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
3 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
2 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (see Cook’s Note)
1 cup chopped scallions (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes in a large pot and add salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Add the corn to the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Put the potatoes in a large serving bowl. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to the bowl. Add the poblano chiles, scallions, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cilantro, and fold together. Season the potato salad, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.
To char the chiles (or any fresh chile): Put the chiles over a gas flame or underneath the broiler and cook until they are blackened on all sides. Enclose them in a plastic bag and let stand for 10 minutes to steam, which will make them easier to peel. Peel, stem, and seed the chiles. Once peeled, the chiles may be chopped, sliced or stuffed.