Sunday Braai is becoming a tradition at our house. We had one that one time for no reason at all, we had one for Christmas, and when Wayne suggested in the earlier hours of this past Sunday that we go for it again I had no arguments against it. As it turns out, some home-cooked grub outside on the patio is just a real nice way to wind down the weekend. And since our garden saw some noticeable improvements this weekend as well, the experience was that much more gratifying.
So anyway, we still have Glen’s grill, the environment was inviting, and we went for it. But you may have noticed the title of this post has no punny braai references (for a full rundown of the braai experience check Wayne’s account of the affair), for in fact the meat and potatoes (minus the meat, and just because it’s not in the title doesn’t mean I’m not good for a pun!) of this entry will be not the shrimp skewers that have become a staple of our cookouts or the toebroodjies (more on that, pronunciation and all, later), delicious though they both were. This is an ode to potato salad.
And not even necessarily this particular potato salad (though it was tasty, and I’ll include the process and ingredients). Maybe just because I’ve recently come to look at potatoes as the ultimate in comfort food, maybe because potato salad isn’t something I was really raised on and thus is still somewhat of a novelty for me, maybe because I know it’s something that’s generally frowned upon as jazzed-up junk food but I’ve come to believe it’s possible to make a perfectly wholesome potato salad… I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve just been really gung ho about potato salads lately.
Wait no I think I have it. Maybe it’s because they’re so easy to make and to cater to one’s own taste. You take potatoes, boil them, scrounge up some things you like and/or have laying around the house, and mix them together! It’s incredible. And if you don’t trust yourself to get it right, (and, I guess, somehow miraculously trust my input) I guess I’ll spare no time getting to the details.
I should include here that I’ve never been a mayonnaise fan. Or shall I say… I convinced myself at some point in my teen years that by simply omitting mayonnaise from any dietary choice I was on the fast track towards obesity avoidance. And then someone brought an oil-based potato salad to a cookout back in the day and made the point that it wouldn’t go bad in the sun, which seemed logical to me, so in my potato-salad-making-days I’ve left it out. Oh except that one time, when I made this coconut/olive oil mayonnaise (Wayne thought the coconut oil overpowered the flavor; I liked it quite a bit but maybe beauty is in the eye of the creator?), and we tried to do a crazy potato salad with all sorts of colorful Thai potatoes but I steamed them too long and it was an overwhelming mushy mess of a potato salad. But hey, trial and error right?
Step one: Boil potatoes/eggs
This is hardly a scientific method, but I boil them, then check them every 5-10 minutes with a fork. When the fork begins to slide in without much resistance, I throw in the eggs. At this point I do take the time to look at a clock; 7 minutes later I turn off the heat and remove the eggs and potatoes from the water. If you want your eggs nicely hardboiled maybe go a bit longer; the very center of the yolk still ends up a bit soft at 7 minutes, which allows it to break down into the dressing in a way that I find delicious.
Step 2: Mix together olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons), the juice of half a lemon, three minced garlic cloves, half a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of mustard (I love mustard and would probably actually have gone for more if the tube hadn’t run out), a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, and a few minced sprigs of scallions and dill.
Step three: Carefully cut potatoes into cubes of your preferred size. You do run the risk of scalding the fingertips here. Peel the eggs and do the same. Add them to the dressing and give everything a good turn with a wooden spoon.
And there you have it!
Of course, I suppose it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t pay a bit of an homage to the rest of the braai…
Oh and the toebroodjes snafu! Each time we’ve braai’ed there’s been talk of toebroodjies, an Afrikaans word pronounced something along the lines of, “Two-broikies.” I understood it/them to be more of just a piece of bread toasted on the grill, optionally topped with cheese or tomato. I also somehow missed out on the first syllable of the word and thought they were simply called “broikies”. That is, until we were at the market shopping for the occasion and Wayne came out and said it, nice and clear, “Well we only need tomatoes if you want toebroodjies.” Which I heard as, “Two broikies,” (as opposed to one or three). And I got a little confused, and didn’t understand why I needed to declare just how many pieces of toasted bread I wanted hours before the occasion, and must have mumbled something that nearly resulted in us not buying the necessary tomatoes, but then we realized, and after a few minutes of sorting out the disconnect (the vendors must have been wondering what the heck we were doing) had ourselves a laugh and… got the tomatoes? Man that story seemed better before I started telling it. (But it stays.)