02 August 2012
My potato salad recipe is one I can brag about and say it's the best because it isn't my own; it's my mother's. It wasn't just my opinion. All my life, everyone who tasted my mother's potato salad declared it the best they'd ever had and wanted to know the secret. She always said "There's no secret. It's just the typical potato salad ingredients."
Of course, she had no recipe. So one day when I was a teenager I grabbed pen and paper and settled in to watch her make it. As she finished chopping each ingredient, I measured it and wrote it down. Later I compared it to recipes in her vast collection of cookbooks that she read like novels and noted the differences.
The main differences were that she: 1) cooked the potatoes whole and unpeeled, 2) created layers of flavor as she went along rather than making a dressing and 3) used only Hellmann's/Best Foods real mayonnaise, never Miracle Whip or sour cream.
If you've been reading Delightful Repast for any length of time, you know I'm all about organic; still, I buy that mayo! Let's all write to the company and tell them to go organic! And do leave a comment and tell me what you like in your potato salad.
Perfect Potato Salad
(Makes 12 very generous servings)
5 pounds russet potatoes
6 large eggs
5 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, patted dry
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups real mayonnaise
3 teaspoons coarse "country" Dijon mustard
1 Cook potatoes whole with skins on in boiling, salted (1 tablespoon) water in covered 5-quart Dutch oven for about 40 minutes; drain immediately. Cool for about 45 minutes, then peel and cube. Put back in pan to mix.
2 Meanwhile, to hard-cook eggs, place eggs in 3-quart saucepan and cover with cold water to at least one inch above eggs. Bring to a rapid boil; remove from heat and cover tightly with lid. Let stand for 18 minutes. Cool at once in cold water.
3 Sprinkle sweet pickle juice over the cubed potatoes; stir. Add salt, pepper and parsley flakes (or parsley); stir. Add celery, pickles, bell pepper and onion; stir. Add mayonnaise and mustard, and sort of stir them together on top of everything else to mix well before stirring the combination into the other ingredients. (Note: Rinsing the onion takes a bit of the "bite" out of it and makes it edible to some people who normally can't eat raw onion.)
4 Use egg slicer to slice eggs. Reserve 7 slices for garnish, then roughly chop remaining slices and add to salad. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer salad to 3-quart serving dish, garnish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (I prefer to make it the day before).