Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Last Word on Truffle Potato Chicken Salad

There it was, staring at me from behind the glass case in a cool little café, in a cool little neighborhood, somewhere on the edge of the San Fernando ValleyIt was a combination so intriguing, so inspired, that I couldn't stop drooling over it.  I mean seriously, I think I actually drooled. 

Moving on...  

It was Truffle Potato Chicken Salad.  What a brilliant idea!  I briefly considered not ordering the short rib sandwich I'd been contemplating previously.  As the line whittled down and I inched closer to the register I made my decision.  I'd have both.  The sandwich was awesome, but the potato salad...  the potato salad was YOWZA!   

For the next couple of days I couldn't stop thinking about itThere was only one thing to do: I picked up the phone and called the café.  I got the manager on the line and asked if she'd be willing to share the recipe.  I explained that I wanted to write about it and share the recipe in my little blog.  I was unceremoniously informed that all recipes were "proprietary."  In other words, a big fat "No."

We'll just see about that.

And so, I rolled up my sleeves and resorted to taste memory and a bit of experimentation in the kitchen.  I knew the basics of the saladIt wasn't mayonnaise based; instead, it was much more French inspired, dressed simply in a Champagne vinaigrette with just a hint of Dijon.  They used fingerling potatoes, but baby Yukon Golds work nicely and are often easier to find.  There was good smattering of fresh chives along with shittake mushrooms, caramelized shallots and of course, the finishing touch - a generous drizzle of earthy, heady white truffle oil.  When that aroma hits you, just before your first bite, it is intoxicating.  There's nothing like it.  
So, this is my rendition of that Truffle Potato Chicken Salad from that little café somewhere on the edge of the San Fernando ValleyI think I came up with a pretty impressive knockoff.  And unlike that café in a cool little neighborhood, my version isn't proprietary.  So what if they wouldn't share their secret with me.  Writing recipes is what I love and sharing them is what I do.   

Oh, and getting the last word...  well, that's almost as delicious as this salad ;)

Truffle Potato Chicken Salad

4 to 6 servings

2 pounds fingerling or baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
¼ cup minced chives
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white truffle oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar and mustard, then slowly whisk in the truffle and olive oils to make an emulsion; season with salt and pepper.
Drop the potatoes, bay leaf and garlic into a large pot of boiling salted water and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander, discard bay leaf and garlic and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in ½ (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Add the butter and olive oil to a medium sauté pan along with the mushrooms and shallots and sauté over medium heat until the both are slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the vinaigrette, mushroom/shallot mixture, chicken and the chives, tossing gently, trying not to break the potatoes up. Taste for seasoning, drizzle with a bit of extra truffle oil and serve warm or at room temperature.

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