When I was growing up I never liked potato salad. I don’t know why because I loved potatoes made every other way. Being Irish, they are one of my favorite food groups, LOL! It wasn’t until I was in college and visiting a friend’s house that I discovered how much I had been missing. My friend’s mother made us potato salad and I fell in love! It was so simple and easy to make, and SO much better than any store-bought versions I had tried. I asked her to make it for me every time I visited, and it became a joke that she had to stock up on potatoes the moment she heard I was coming.
Eventually of course I learned to make it for myself and it became one of my most requested dishes. There is something very comforting about potato salad – maybe it is the memories of warm summer days, picnics at the beach, barbecues, and softball games with friends. I make a lot of different types of potato salad but this is the one I keep coming back to and the one I always serve at a traditional barbecue. If you don’t like mayonnaise or are afraid of it spoiling on a hot day, you can also use a simple vinaigrette or Italian dressing on this salad. In that case, leave out the pickles and add some bell peppers to the celery and onions. If you wanted you could even add some chopped salami for an Italian twist! Any way you make it, I know your family and friends will love it.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Potato salad needs to be kept cold for safety reasons. If you are planning on serving it at a barbecue or picnic, place it in a serving bowl and take along a bowl big enough for the serving bowl to fit inside – a wide shallow bowl would be perfect. When you get to your destination, place some ice in the large bowl, nestle the serving bowl in the ice, and add more ice around the edges. This will keep your salad nice and cold, no matter how long it sits out. Replenish ice as needed.
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
Jane Evans Bonacci © 1997
Yield: about 6 servings
You can make this as is or add lots of additional ingredients. Most of the time I keep it very simple, but occasionally I’ll spice it up a bit for a change of pace. Play around with it until you come up with a combination you like.
6 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
2 tbsp kosher salt
3 green onions, rinsed
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish or 3 sweet gherkins, minced
2 stalks celery
1/3 to 1/2 cup Light Mayonnaise (Best Foods or Hellman’s recommended)
About 2 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sweet pickle juice (from jar of pickles)
Optional ingredients: Chopped hard-boiled eggs, cooked bacon pieces, corn kernels,chopped bell pepper, mild or hot chiles, halved cherry tomatoes, etc.
Place unpeeled potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water by 2-inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir in 2 tbsp kosher salt, reduce heat to medium (keep water at a low boil) and cook until you can easily pierce potatoes with a fork, about 20 minutes. Large potatoes may take longer. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, chop onions, sweet pickles and celery into small pieces all about the same size. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, and enough pickle juice to thin it out a bit. Taste and adjust seasonings until you get a flavor balance you like.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, peel and cut into bite-sized cubes. Add potatoes to bowl with onions, pickles, and celery. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and toss until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Pour half of mayonnaise mixture over the top and toss until coated. Add remaining mayonnaise as desired to get the amount of sauce you like. My husband likes his potato salad quite dry, and others like it with lots of sauce. Add enough to suit your family’s taste. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve, at least 2 hours if possible. Flavors need time to meld and salad should be served cold.