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Tailgate Gourmet: Chef Nick Hertel’s Smoked Potato Salad

Tailgate Gourmet: Chef Nick Hertel’s Smoked Potato Salad:

This football season, we’ve partnered with Taste of the NFL and their favorite tailgating experts to share great game-day recipes for an even greater cause. All season long, these chefs are bringing food and football fanatics together to help defeat one common opponent: hunger. Join these chefs in raising awareness and funds for hunger relief across the country by taking the Kick Hunger Challenge with your favorite football team and making a donation to their local food bank.

This week, Nick Hertel, Executive Chef of Merchants in Nashville, shares his smoked potato salad recipe, elevating the oft-lame potuck item to the next level.

“As a chef attending or hosting football parties/tailgates there has always been an unspoken assumption that I will have or show up with some tasty food,” Hertel says. “That is where the smoked potato salad was born. While at a friend’s house noshing on some pretty lame potato salad, my palate was overtaken by smoke billowing off the grill. The combination in my mouth made the potato salad much better and a few weeks later I had found the perfect combination of smoke to potato recipe.”

Smoked Potato Salad

• 2 Yukon Gold Potatoes
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 10 slices Benton’s bacon, cut into lardons
• 1 sweet Vidalia, diced
• 3 ribs celery, diced
• Kosher salt
• 1 ½ cups Dukes mayonnaise
• ¼ cup Dijon mustard
• ¼ cup whole grain mustard


(You can speed this process up by buying cooked and cut potatoes in your stores freezer section and smoking them. If you do not have a smoker try adding a tablespoon of liquid smoke to the mayonnaise, most grocery stores will have this item near the BBQ sauces)

Bake potatoes whole at 375°f for 45 minutes or fork tender in a convection oven. Once done place on an oven safe rack to cool. (Chef Hertel likes to bake the potatoes rather than boil so they are not so waterlogged. But boiling them until fork tender is great, too). Cut potatoes into quarters or eights depending on your preference and place on a few sheets of aluminum foil or sheet tray. While the potatoes are cooking, put 2 tablespoons olive oil into a sauté pan, add the bacon and bring to a medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until it is brown and crispy. Remove from the heat and add the onions and celery. Sauté for several minutes until cooked but not too soft. Season with salt and reserve.

Using the wood of your choice (something mild is best), smoke the cooked potatoes in your smoker on the sheet of aluminum foil. Be careful not to add too much smoke to the potatoes as starches soak up smoke quickly. 10-20 minutes of exposure to heavy smoke should be sufficient. Smoke them longer if you don’t mind a VERY heavy smoke flavor but for this recipe I prefer the smoke to be more of a background flavor.

Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. While the potatoes are still hot add the bacon-onion mixture. Stir to incorporate. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and stir in the mustard. Add more salt, if needed. Don’t forget the beer!

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