Smokey Crab, Bacon, Leek, and Potato Salad, with a huge side of 49ers Football

I am a history major, I am a lawyer, I am a nerd, I am a young adult literature fanatic.   And oh boy, I am a football fan.  Ever since I was little, my family has rooted for the 49ers — the days of Joe Montana were glorious ones.  My interest has waxed and waned throughout the years, depending on how entertaining it has been to watch the team, but ever since Harbaugh took over, I have been extra excited.  Not only have the 49ers been good again (usually), but Jim Harbaugh makes it entertaining.

(I love Harbaugh. I love that he whipped the team into shape.  I love his tantrums. I love his righteous anger and his hands on his hips.  I love that he loves Judge Judy.  Harbaugh is my spirit animal.)

I SEE JUSTIN SMITH AND HE IS DEFINITELY A BEAST IEIEIEIE

Also: this is probably sacrilege to say…but as much as I love San Francisco, I hate baseball and I don’t care if the Giants win anything so there take that with all apologies to all my friends and this sentence is ending now okay sorry.

Even though my brother and I used to have our own tiny little gold satin 49ers starter jackets, my VERY FIRST 49ERS GAME was on 9/22/2013 at Candlestick Park (the farewell-to-Candlestick season, if you haven’t been paying attention).  I went to Candlestick for the Giants back in…well, I was 8, and I am not sure I want to say what year that was.  However, I vividly remember looking down at the field from our nosebleed seats and thinking, “If I tripped and fell down the stairs, I would die,” because even as a child I was very optimistic.

Who sees Frank Gore here? I DO. I SEE FRANK GORE. AND HARBAUGH. ALSO IEIEIEIEIEIEIEIE

ANYWAY.

We have some awesome friends that chose to give us one of the most delightful wedding gifts of all: 49ers tickets at Candlestick, in the shade (which is great if you are as pale as we are), so close that I could see Harbaugh putting his hands on his hips and yelling.

OH. MY. GOD.

We had to do it up right.   (We might never be able to do this again. We have insane student debt and rent to pay.)

I took some gratuitous selfies.

The hat is super old school. I would like to believe that I am not.  I can pretend.

Candlestick was both exactly like I remembered as a child, and completely different — as so many childhood destinations can be.  It was at once bigger and smaller.  And of course, I wasn’t there to see the Giants — I was there to see the 49ers.  And this time, my parents were not dragging me along with Squeez-Its in a diaper bag and urging me to shut up because baseball is intrinsically boring. This time, gloriously, I was the person to shut up because I was into the game.  (Well, actually, I hope no one wanted to shut me up.  I was loud during defense and appropriately quiet but enthusiastic on offense!  Because I meticulously research and follow societal mores!  Oh god, someone help me stop being such a nerd.)

The legally-attached gentleman with sandwich and adult beverage in tow.

The things that truly struck me: 1) how fun it is to be in a stadium full of people who love the same team, 2) the sense of community that you get as soon as you take the exit to the stadium, and 3) how unbelievably identifiable Jim Harbaugh is, even 30 rows back, even wearing the same outfit as 10 other people, just by the way he puts his hands on his hips.

I also loved how, even during practice, Kaepernick was throwing the ball three times as hard as anyone else.  I went to college in the same town in which he grew up, and I respect his work ethic — it is so much fun watching him play for my favorite team.

And yeah, the 49ers lost against the Colts (incidentally, I believe that I have also seen Andrew Luck play for Stanford, in person — he is a great player, that’s for sure) that day, which sucked — but it was still, hands down, one of the most fun days I’ve ever had.

Either way, the day called for a “tailgate” picnic — we didn’t have a grill or chairs, although belatedly, I realize I could have asked my parents to borrow both.  I made a tomato and green bean salad with preserved lemon, turkey and bacon sandwiches on sour batard with butter/mustard spread, and my favorite, a fingerling potato salad with leeks, bacon, crab, and a creamy smokey vinaigrette dressing.  We also packed a few beers.

The potato salad travels especially well in a large mason jar over ice.

This isn’t a traditional, mayo-y salad that’s heavy and creamy.  It’s tart, complex, yet starchy enough to soak up that pre-game beer.  Here’s the recipe, and may you be as delighted to see your team as I was to see mine.

SMOKEY FINGERLING POTATO SALAD WITH CRAB, BACON, AND LEEKS

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf (italian) parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt (I used The Spice Lab’s alderwood smoked salt, but I know there are different strengths — start small and use to taste)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together, cover, and let rest in the refrigerator at least one hour and up to one day.

Salad:

  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced
  • 6 oz bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 6 oz cooked crab meat, well picked over and if canned, well-drained (I recommend Trader Joe’s canned version for $2 — flavor without sacrificing price!)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add potatoes and boil for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.  Drain and let cool to room temperature. Halve, or quarter if especially large. Sprinkle and toss with vinegar.

Cook the bacon until crisp and drain on a paper towel.  Do not pour off the fat from the pan.

Slice and wash the leeks (the dirt lurks within the rings!).  Saute in the bacon fat until soft and wilted, about 10-15 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and let cool to room temperature.

Thoroughly fold together potatoes, cooked leeks, bacon, crab, and dressing until well-mixed. Taste.  Add pepper.  If needed, add more smoked salt and pepper.  Hope for victory.

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