Impress Through Simplicity and Please Through Ease! How often have I told you, dear reader? The best way to triumph when throwing a dinner party is by serving food easy to make, easy to preserve, easy to serve and easy to take. And yes: that’s a deliberate rhyme! Wisdom, you see, ALWAYS rhymes; on paper as well as in the kitchen!
Now how does this timeless insight translate into your choice of dishes? Well, as you are surely aware, most hosts and hostesses built their menu around the plat de resistance, the roast, or fowl, or stew or splendid platter of fruits de mer which is meant to catch the eye of the guests and generate the Ooohs and Aaahs that every cook so deeply craves for.
That, however, is the easy bit.
The real trouble starts with the side dishes. An elaborate, decorative salad is still easily invented or copied from a cookbook or a website. A worthy sauce is whipped up in a matter of moments. But what about the starch? The stuff that fills the hollows left in the ravenous stomachs when all those sophisticated frills and extras have been consumed? There, most of us reach a horrid level of despondency and despair. Pasta? Boiled potatoes? White rice? Oh, it is all so very prosaic…!! So bland. So tasteless. So very much out of tune with your other efforts!
You will want a filling side dish with spunk. With phenomenal flavour. With character and personality. And so I offer you today a marvellous option: Al Mittington’s Aioli Potatoes, tremendously easy to make, and – as it must be served cold anyway – a little godsend for the hard-pressed dinner-throwing chef who has no time to spare.
Some 6 hours before dinner time, boil 1 large new fresh potato per guest, cut into slices as thick as, say, your copy of Death In Venice. Once done, put these potatoes into the recipient in which you plan to serve them, and let them cool off.
Chop an onion into slices. Fry these, ever so slowly, in sweet butter in a frying pan. It is essential that neither the butter nor the onions burn. Once the onions turn glassy, toss in a teaspoon or two of sugar. Let it fry a fair while longer, until the onions are perfectly limp and only a little brown. Now simply spoon them on top of the potatoes, and let them cool as well.
Next make the sauce (which is a simplified form of the world famous Aioli al-Fredo, therecipe of which I revealed long ago). For every potato you boiled, put a generous tablespoon of quality Mayonnaise into a bowl. Peel and then crush half a modest clove of garlic.
(NOTE BENE: The one and only one rule to this recipe is: UNDERDO the garlic by all means. At least at first. You can always add garlic later if you really think the sauce lacks strength. But raw garlic is the Big Bertha among alliums; and – as they say – you can’t get the garlic paste out of the tubers again…)
Add the crushed garlic to the mayo. Add salt, some fresh white pepper, and a small spoonful of mustard. Toss in a tablespoon of milk for every potato as well. Stir diligently. If the sauce is very thick, add some more milk, but do not overdo it.
Once the potatoes & onions are perfectly cold, spoon in the sauce, and stir until the sauce covers every potato on every side. Chop – if available – some fresh chives, or fresh parsley, or fresh dill. Sprinkle on top. Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve dinner.