By Terry Harris
I do love when all my favorite flowers seem to magically appear in early spring! Daffodils… violets… chives…
Yes, I did say that. And if you haven’t tried chive flowers, you’re missing a real treat. But since they’re only a teensy, optional ingredient in this week’s recipe for Bacon-Deviled Potato Bites, we’ll get back to that in a minute. First, let me share how I stumbled across one of my favorite, go-to recipes that originally was meant for an Easter treat but turned out to be perfect for just about anything.
A couple of years ago, we decided that for the annual Family Farm Easter Potluck Picnic and Egg Hunt the menu need to include some “finger food” in deference to all the adorable nieces and nephews who had been born into the family in recent years.
I remember being pretty excited about it, because Easter already was my favorite holiday event, and that year, among the 50-something family members attending, we would have as at least 13 kids and seven of them were practically babies - and I do love my nieces and nephews! I wanted to make something special, but most of my finger food recipes are geared to adult tastes, so I started what I expected to be a long, drawn-out search for the perfect pick-up-and-eat-treat that would not be a dessert, and almost immediately stumbled upon a recipe for mini-potatoes basically filled with potato/egg salad and bacon!
Wellllll… when I realized about how MANY of these little things I would need to make for such a big crowd I got a little nervous. But I had already committed to it, so I went searching for perfect baby potatoes – and trying not to think how long it would take to clean up and prepare 100 of them.
Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across packages of microwave-ready baby potatoes all washed and ready to go! They were even available in a mixture of red and yellow ones – so I could have trays of what I was convinced would look like Easter eggs! And they do! They’re just as cute as they can be, and they taste even better than they look.
Of course, I adapted the original recipe to my own favorite tastes, and along the way I stumbled across the biggest tip I can give you for making these in half the time; if you do not already have one, get yourself a melon baller. I had one in the back of a drawer that I had not used in years, but I guarantee I use it more often now!
The recipe is simplicity itself. All you do is cook some golf ball size potatoes, cool them, halve them, and then hollow them - ideally, with your melon baller. Then mix together the cooked potato “centers” with chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt & pepper until they reach the consistency of slightly stiff potato salad, stir in the crisp, crumbled bacon and some chopped fresh chives, and pipe or spoon the mixture into the potato shells. Chill, top with more bacon and chives, and serve.
That’s pretty much it. I had originally planned to add homemade sweet pickle and a little finely chopped celery, because that is generally how I make my potato salad. Afterward, I really was glad that I went in a different direction. because just as described in the recipe below, these things are delicious! But of course, you could use the sweet pickle, or some finely chopped green or red pepper, or basically whatever you generally include in your favorite potato salad recipe, finely chopped. Just do not leave out the bacon!
Well, what started out to be my special Easter recipe turned out to be perfect for anything from posh parties to potlucks. I say fortunately because, well, after all that preparation right down to making a test batch a week early to make sure they would be “just right” I went out and bought everything for the picnic and when the day before Easter arrived – just as I was about to start preparing all the little baby Deviled Bacon Bites, I came down with a fever and was afraid to be around all the kids. So, I spent the day at home, alone, with enough baby potatoes to feed an army.
I was still excited about the recipe, though, and now I can also tell you that if you use tennis ball sized potatoes instead of the baby ones and increase the rest of the ingredients proportionally, they make a great side dish for most any sit-down meal as well.
Oh! And the chive flowers? I have a little patch of chives out back that come back every spring, and I discovered a few years back that those cute little lavender chive flower balls that I used to cut off and toss away are delicious! You just break apart the “topknot” ball that grows from the center of the chive plant into tiny, individual, delicate – and delicious – little treats that you can float atop soups or sprinkle on salads for just the slightest hint of mild onion flavor. And if you look very closely at one of these Baby Bacon Deviled Potato Bites photos, you’ll see my very first little lavender chive flower of the year perched right on top. Enjoy!
BACON-DEVILED POTATO BITES
12 small red or yellow potatoes
2 chopped hard boiled eggs
4 strips bacon, crisped and crumbled
2 T chives
3 Chive flowers
5 Tblsp mayo
1 tsp yellow mustard
3 Tblsp sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and gently boil the potatoes, skin-on, until sides are slightly firm, skin easily yields to a knife. Drain and cool slightly, then halve the potatoes and hollow out the center of each half, leaving enough around the outside to make them easy to handle – like a deviled egg.
Mash the potato “centers” in a medium-size bowl and add all remaining ingredients except the chive flowers and a l ittle of the crumbled bacon. Very lightly salt the little potato halves, then fill them with the potato mixture.
Refrigerate for several hours. Garnish with remaining bacon crumbles, chives, or thinly sliced green onion before serving.
NOTE: May also add finely chopped pickles, green pepper, any of your favorite potato salad ingredients.