Thursday 8 November 2007

Hot baby potatoes with cold tuna-caper dressing

This recipe is inspired by the sublime Italian dish Vitello Tonnato - thin slices of poached veal coated in a silken sauce of mayonnaise, tuna, capers, lemon juice and olive oil. Not having any thin shavings of baby cow on hand, I tried it with garlicky baby potatoes. Heaven.

I never peel new potatoes, but for this recipe, a peeled spud is essential. You can buy ready-peeled new potatoes at Woolies. (Or you can buy, for a mere R150, a potato-peeling appliance. Post a comment if you want to know more.)

For the potatoes:

1 kg baby potatoes, peeled
30 ml (2 T) butter
1 clove garlic

For the dressing:

1 tin tuna, drained of brine or oil
1-3 anchovy fillets, to taste
juice of two fat lemons
250 ml good mayonnaise (Hellman's, or home-made, but not salad cream)
150 ml olive oil
10 capers
a pinch of salt (but taste it first; the anchovy fillets may be salty enough)
freshly milled black pepper
a little hot water

To garnish:

a scattering of capers

First make the dressing. Put all the ingredients except the hot water in the goblet of a blender and whizz until very smooth and fine. The dressing should have the consistency of thick pouring cream, or a thin custard - it it's too stiff, add a little hot water. Process the dressing until it's silky and absolutely smooth. Pour into a jug or bowl and chill for an hour or two in the fridge.

Cook the potatoes in plenty of briskly boiling, salted water (or microwave in a covered glass bowl) until tender but not falling apart (about 25 minutes). While they are cooking, crush the garlic to a fine paste, mix it with the butter in a small saucepan and heat it gently until the butter begins to bubble. Cook for a minute or two, but don't allow the garlic to brown. (You can also do this in the microwave). Drain the potatoes thoroughly, tip them into the saucepan and toss well to coat. Scatter the capers over the potatoes.

Serve the potatoes piping hot, and pass around a jug of cold dressing.

Serve six as a side dish.
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