Hot days and warm summer nights mean barbecue, picnic, and potluck season is upon us (even though some of us are still waiting to see the sun). One dish in particular seems to find its way to all of these events. Like or hate it, I’m talking about potato salad. Even people who dislike potato salad still have plenty to say about it.
I’m not talking about German Potato Salad or French Potato Salad either, just regular ol’ deli-style potato salad. It’s mayonnaise-based with potatoes and eggs. Some people add onions or celery, while others add pickle relish. Others, like me, prefer it simple.
Here is my recipe along with a few tips to make a great, basic potato salad:
- boiling potatoes–figure one potato per person plus a few extras for good measure
- hard-boiled eggs*–the number of eggs should match the number of potatoes
- mayonnaise (real mayonnaise not imitation)
- yellow mustard, nothing fancy here
- salt & pepper to taste
- Potatoes should be about the same size. If you have a huge one, cut it in half or quarters. Place potatoes in their jackets (that’s fancy talk for unpeeled) in salted water. Bring the water to a boil, then boil about 20 minutes or until a fork inserted into the potatoes easily push through but does not break the potato apart. Don’t overcook them or you will end up with mashed potatoes.
- Strain and cool. Peel, dice, and place in a bowl.
- Peel eggs. Slice or chop them, then add to the potatoes.
- Add a large spoonful of mayonnaise. Always start with less than you think you’ll need. Stir to coat. Add more mayo if you need it. A light coating is best.
- Add just a squirt of mustard and some salt and pepper. Stir to coat.
- Taste. Add more mayo, mustard, salt, or pepper if needed.
*Place uncooked eggs in a pot with lots of room temperature water. Bring it to a boil. Then, remove from the heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Remove the lid and flush pan with cold water and ice.
My mom put whole black olives in her potato salad. It’s still my favorite add-in to this dish. I haven’t run across anyone else who does this. It adds a complimentary flavor and a nice color component. Kids seem to find it especially exciting, and people who don’t like olives can easily pick them out. It’s hard to pick out chopped onions or pickle relish!
There you have it, my kick-off summer recipe.