The grand thing about cooking is you can eat your mistakes. -Julia Child

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mom's Potato Salad

I had a barbecue at a friend's house to go to this weekend. When asked what dish I wanted to bring I had to think about it for a while. There were too many options - vegetables, salads, appetizers, desserts...I couldn't decide!

So I decided to base my decision on this: What is the one BBQ food I'd rather be made by myself than anyone else in attendance (or bought from a deli)? The answer - potato salad.

This wasn't because I think that mine is the best, but rather because I look at potato salad as a very personal food. Everyone has their own idea of how it should be made. Some like mustard, some say no way. Some use mayo, some use (*shudder*) Miracle Whip. Some use egg, onion, pickle chips, relish, other veggies (I've seen carrots and peas used!) get the idea. I wanted to eat potato salad made my way.

Today's me-recipe is really a mom-recipe. This is how my mother made her potato salad, and I won't eat it any other way. I take that back - I'll eat potato salad whenever it is around, but I probably won't enjoy it unless it at least bears some resemblance to this recipe. We use both mayo and mustard, celery for crunch, cayenne and dijon mustard for kick. Mmmmm. (Apologies for the bad picture today, by the way - I didn't have my digital camera and the BlackBerry pic is much worse than I imagined it would be!)

A few notes about this recipe. First, use a more waxy (as opposed to starchy) variety of potato. Avoid Idaho/"baking potatoes"; I used "Yukon Gold." Use a sweet onion such as Vidalia if possible. Use real mayonnaise - I swear by Hellman's, their "light" variety with the light blue lid is also good if you want to save a few calories. Avoid the "low fat" green lid one at all costs. You may prefer less salt in your potato salad; add about half and taste before adding more. Use regular yellow mustard for a more smooth potato salad; use dijon mustard such as Grey Poupon if you want to give the dish some tang (I like it, but I don't think everyone does).

Mom's Potato Salad
By Me!
Serves a small army (about 8-10)

6 medium potatoes, boiled
6 eggs, hard boiled
3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about a generous 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped onion
7 Tbsp mayonnaise (about a scant 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 Tbsp mustard
2 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sweet paprika (i.e., regular paprika, not smoked), plus more for garnish
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes, about 3/4" on each side. Add to a large bowl.
Peel the eggs and cut into smaller cubes, about 1 cm on each side. Add to the bowl.
Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard.
Sprinkle the seasonings on top. Stir the whole thing together until it is well blended.
Refrigerate for at least an hour but preferably overnight to allow the flavors to settle.
Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle more paprika on top to garnish.

Verdict? It should come as no surprise that I like this after reading the intro to this post. So I'll just write what a friend of mine said - this is a very egg salad-like potato salad, with the hard boiled eggs giving the whole thing a bit of smoothness, while the celery and onion add crunch. If I'm making this for myself sometimes I'll add almost twice as much celery because I love the crunch. But that's just me. :)


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