You may know that there are few things I enjoy as much as a really fine potato salad. My bestest friend, Nancy, joins me in my unbridled love for the stuff. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I came across a book not to long ago of nothing but potato salad recipes. “Potato Salad: Fifty Favorite Recipes” by Barbara Lauterbach has, amongst other things, turned many people I know (thanks to the frequency with which I’ve made it) onto the magic of using orange and rosemary as the predominant flavors in a potato salad. If you buy this book for no other reason, by it for the Orange-Rosemary Potato Salad recipe (the Seattle Times has an adaptation of this recipe here) and experience the revelation for yourself. It’s magical. Music in your mouth. Or as one guest said “Definitely NOT your mother’s potato salad!”
Anyway, I’ve had (and made) a whole lot of southern-style potato salad in my life but the recipe from this book (with modifications noted) will be my new master recipe for southern potato salad. Without further ado, I present you with:
Blue Ribbon Southern Potato Salad
8 red or brown all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup diced green celery
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 diced yellow onion
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 jar (8 oz) sweet pickle cubes or 1 cup diced sweet pickle
1 small jar (4 oz) pimientos, drained, dried on paper towels and diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
dash of sugar
dash of salt
Steam potatoes, testing for doneness after 8 minutes. Continue to cook until done but not overly soft. Drain and let cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the cooled potatoes, celery, green bell pepper, onion, eggs, pickle cubes and pimientos.
To make the dressing, in a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, sugar and salt. Add to the potato mixture, toss gently but thoroughly, cover, and chill before serving.
1. I used Yukon Gold potatoes. You can get away with boiling them gently if you are *very* careful not to overcook them.
2. I took a pointer from an old Cooks Illustrated test kitchen article and spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer to cool them. While still warm, I sprinkled them with salt, pepper and sprinkled some sweet pickle juice on them. Then I let them cool *completely* to room temperature.
3. I used a small jar of cornichons instead of pickle cubes or relish. I have one of those mini food processors I whizzed them in for a few seconds to chop them up. The juice I saved for use as noted above.
4. I added a small amount of chopped capers and some fresh finely chopped parsley to mine.
5. I grate my onion instead of dicing it.
6. I add a teaspoon or so (maybe more) of Dijon to the dressing (in addition to the yellow mustard) because I like the extra punch of more mustard flavor.
7. I also have to do what my grandma always did and add some egg slices and a sprinkle of paprika on top before I chill it. Tradition, dontchaknow!