Hungry grape-pickers have this as a first course when they come back from the fields at mid-day. For us it can be lunch, perhaps with a green salad - either way these are robust, splendid flavours! I first had this in the Loire - a glass of Sancerre or Pouilly Fume´ would go down nicely with it!
FOR 6 PEOPLE AS A FIRST COURSE
1 kg (2 lb) small waxy-fleshed potatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 medium onion or shallots 1 can or vacuum pack smoked herring fillets (about 200 gr/ 7 oz)
handful of fresh parsley
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
Wash the potatoes and boil in salted water. They should remain firm but cooked through.
While they are cooking, make the vinaigrette. One tablespoon of vinegar to three of oil is a fairly standard proportion for this kind of thing, but it is a matter of taste. It is usually more vinegary than a dressing for a green salad. The proportion of oils used would probably be two tablespoons of the cheaper groundnut oil to one of the expensive walnut oil.
Drain the potatoes and allow to cool until you can handle them. Peel them. Put them, the bigger ones cut in two, into a salad bowl. Pour over the vinaigrette and toss the potatoes in it while they are warm. Add salt and plenty of pepper.
Peel the onion/shallots and chop finely. Mix with the potatoes.
Drain any liquid from the herring fillets, cut them into smallish pieces and mix with the potatoes.
Wash, dry and finely chop the parsley, then add to the bowl. This salad rather needs the bright green as the colours are dull. It can be served while the potatoes are still warm, or left to absorb more of the flavours of the vinaigrette and served at room temperature.
The smoked herring fillets are available in most French supermarkets, but if not available, there are other versions: kipper fillets (preferably oak-smoked) or smoked mackerel work well. Hard-boiled eggs and tinned anchovies make another good partnership with the potatoes.