According to internationally acclaimed food writer, Elizabeth David, this salad was originally a specialty of the fancy Hotel Couronne in Rouen, in the north of France. From there, it sashayed around to other resort kitchens, each offering its own rendition of basically, potato salad. One extravagant variation included some truffle to be chopped in with the ham.
The dish as we adapted it at Pig-by-the-Tail, via Elizabeth David, featured our house-made ham, jambon de Paris, a standard delight of “old-fashioned” butcher shops and delis that maintained pickling barrels where beef tongues were seasoned to delicate, pink sweetness for slicing into salads, pigs’ trotters were cured into pickled pigs’ feet, and legs of pork were turned into succulent hams. In place of truffle, we added cubes of country pate to round out the selection of charcuterie included.
A Note: Two tricks for making supremely tasty potato salad are to add a big pinch of salt to the cooking water and to coat the potatoes with Dijon mustard while they are still warm, even if making in advance of serving.
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound fingerling potatoes, any color, not peeled but scrubbed and sliced crosswise 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup thinly sliced celery rib, including some small leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 ounces thinly sliced, mild ham, cut into thin shreds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the potatoes in a medium-size saucepan, add a large pinch of salt and water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to maintain a gentle boil, and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to drip dry momentarily.
2. While still warm, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the mustard, a pinch of salt and one of pepper, and gently mix to coat all around. May be set aside at room temperature up to several hours, if desired.
3. When ready to serve, add the celery, shallots, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the vinegar, and the oil in a small bowl. Add the celery, the pate, and the remaining tablespoon of parsley to the potatoes and mix gently. Strew the slivered ham across the top, and serve.