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Posts Tagged ‘Potato Salad’

We got invited to a late afternoon cookout and I was tasked to bring potato salad. It was a particularly busy weekend so I weighed my options. Should I buy the potato salad? I contemplated going to Whole Foods where I knew I couldn’t go wrong but would end up spending the equivalent of my kids’ fall clothes budget. We swing by Giant and I look at their prepared foods section and it doesn’t cost much less than Whole Foods (when the heck did this happen??). Giant had a case of pre-packaged potato salad which not only looked suspect to me (I am sure it was FINE) but somewhat pricey for what I viewed it to be. I am standing at the supermarket literally swamped with indecision. The produce aisle is two feet away and I know I can make the salad with my eyes closed. At this point my family is just ready to bolt. We have two and a half hours till we have to leave.

I decide to exercise my culinary skill and make a mad dash throughout the store (it is Sunday and people are leisurely strolling around with their long lists and matching coupons!) for all the other ingredients. We get home and I immediately get to it. I put the potato salad in a serving dish with exactly 45 minutes till we have to leave. Enough time for it to cool down (it can chill all the way in the host’s fridge when we get there)  and allow the flavors to meld. Was I happy to have made it from scratch? Absolutely!

  • 5 pound bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters, depending on size of the potatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • scant 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bunch chives (finely chopped or snipped)
  1. In a large stock pot, add potatoes and cover with cold water. Heavily salt the water. Allow potatoes to cook until fork tender. About 20 minutes or so.
  2. Boil eggs to make hard-boiled eggs. Peel and slice into rough pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, white vinegar, salt, pepper, and half of the chives. Mix very well.
  4. Once the potatoes are done, drain very well and immediately toss with the mayonnaise mixture. Add the eggs. Check for seasoning. If you think you need more of the mayonnaise mixture, mix a small batch and slowly add it in small portions till you get the proportion that you want.
  5. Top with more chives and chill.

 It is a very simple recipe but the end result is a creamy kind of potato salad that melts in your mouth. For this salad it is all about the ingredients and the technique. First you have the kind of potato. Yukon Gold is my choice and it is the same one I use for mashed potatoes. It is buttery and not waxy at all. You also have to start cooking the potatoes in cold salted water versus dropping the potatoes in boiling water. This allows the gradual heat build up to cook the potatoes evenly. Dropping it in boiling water will cook the outside part long before the inside leaving you with mush AND uncooked bits. Second is making having the correct mayonnaise to potato ratio. I don’t like my potato salad swimming in mayonnaise so I start with a small amount of the mayonnaise mixture (I did not grow up eating mayonnaise so I am not a fan). This is something you can make your own. Don’t like grainy mustard? No problem. Don’t like mayonnaise? How about substituting plain yogurt? The point is, if you add too much mayonnaise, chances are, you don’t have extra cooked potatoes hanging around to balance the proportion out. Lastly, add the potatoes when they are steaming hot. The heat from the potatoes allows the mayonnaise mix to somewhat and melt into the potatoes making it a more part of the dish rather than something that is just folded in. Adding it on at this point allows the flavors to steep into the potatoes. Think of a traditional macaroni salad. The mayonnaise is always added in when the pasta is cooled down. The mayonnaise mixture for this has to be seasoned very, very well. To do otherwise, all you taste is the mayonnaise and the pasta. In a potato salad, the flavor of the potatoes -not the mayo –  should come out (hence the name…). All these techniques guarantee that you will have a good potato salad that you can truly make your own.

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