Potato Salad

Homemade potato salad.

Some years ago I decided that I was going experiment until I had good recipes for “the big 3” side dishes for summer cookouts. I’d already worked out a good vegetarian BBQ Baked Beans recipe, which was much requested, but I and everyone I knew still relied on store-bought containers of cole slaw and potato salad. I’m a big fan of both, particularly potato salad. Once I’d perfected my Frankenslaw so that it was requested as much as the beans, I knew it was time to tackle potato salad. I was a bit daunted by this because I’ve tasted literally hundreds of different kinds of potato salad over the years, at restaurants, from stores and on rare occasions homemade. Potato salad recipes are a bit like Hamlet: there are as many different versions as there are people doing it!

I’ve experimented and tweaked ingredients and amount until I’m satisfied with this recipe. It’s not terribly innovative and has no wildly exotic ingredients, but it makes a good tasty potato salad. This is best made up a day ahead of time and chilled overnight or longer. The flavor improves with longer chilling.

5 lbs medium-size red potatoes
bunch of green onion (6 stalks)
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 Tbls yellow mustard
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/4 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
4 oz jar of pimentos, drained
3 tsp dried dill

Wash potatoes thoroughly to remove grit and dirt, remove eyes and bad places, but don’t peel — unless you want to. Some people prefer potato salad made with peeled potatoes. I like potato skins and I don’t like peeling potatoes, so I made the natural choice for me. 😉

You can either boil the potatoes whole or cut them into halves or quarters before boiling. (I usually half or quarter them.) Boil potatoes until done, that is, tender when pierced with a fork through the center. While potatoes are cooking, dice celery finely and set aside. Snip green onion into small rounds with kitchen shears. Place the green onions in the bowl you’ll be using for the potato salad.

I prefer a large ceramic container because the mixture is slightly acidic and that’s not a good combination with metal. On the other hand, if you’re taking this to a cookout, picnic, party, or cookout, a big aluminum pan is probably the practical choice. This makes a ton of potato salad (figuratively speaking). I have a 6 qt crockpot and use removable ceramic dish for this recipe.

When potatoes are done and still hot, drain them, then dump them over the green onions in the bowl. Let sit a minute or so. This wilts and steams the green onion. (If you prefer raw onion in your potato salad, skip that and add the green onion with the rest of the ingredients after the potatoes have cooled.)

Stir potatoes and wilted green onions. Then I use a long knife to slice through and through the potatoes until the pieces are smaller. (If you don’t get all the pieces cut small enough on this first pass, don’t worry about it: you’ll get another shot at it when you mix everything in.) The reason I do it this way is that if you cut up the hot potatoes (or let them cool then cut them up) they aren’t hot enough to steam and wilt the green onion. If you prefer the onion raw and cold, go ahead and cool the potatoes before you cut them up.

Let the potatoes and green onion cool completely. When the potatoes are room temp (or you can cover them and cool them off in the fridge) stir in all the other ingredients, until all is thoroughly mixed together and the potatoes are somewhat mushy from the stirring. If the consistency or size of the pieces doesn’t look quite right, run the knife through the whole mess again several times and stir some more.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, overnight is best. Flavor will improve with time and chilling.

The potato salad will dry out in the fridge unless you have a very tight-fitting lid (which I don’t) or perhaps the potatoes soak up some of the moisture. Whatever the cause, you may need to add a bit more yogurt and mayo. If you like your potato salad wetter or mushier, add a little bit more of either mayo and yogurt — a spoonful at a time — until you reach the consistency you like. It doesn’t take much to make it wetter, especially as the potatoes disintegrate with stirring. Bear in mind that yogurt makes it tangier. Give it a taste test before deciding on adding yogurt, mayo or both. This is the point to tweak the texture and consistency to suit yourself. If you think it’s got the right amount of dressing but want it mushier, just continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the potatoes disintegrate more and combine with the dressing.

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