I love potato salad.
To be more specific, I love my mom’s potato salad.
Both of my parents are terrific cooks but the meal requested most by my sister and me is a comfort food trifecta: brisket, this potato salad, and good old green beans.
Here’s what you need:
Potatoes, Onion, Celery, Pickles, Eggs, Mayonnaise, Vinegar, Celery Seed, Sugar, Salt & Pepper.
I like Yukon Gold Potatoes for their flavor and creamy texture, but any firm white potato will do.
For this potato salad we need 4 hard boiled eggs. A pretty fool-proof method of boiling eggs is to put the eggs in a sauce pan and cover with cool tap water.
Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, take the eggs off the heat, cover with a lid and let them sit for 10 – 12 minutes. No peeking.
After 10 minutes (12 if you’re boiling a lot of eggs), drain the hot water off the eggs and run them in the pan under cool water changing the water 3 or 4 times to allow the eggs to slowly cool. When they are cool to the touch, you can peel them right away or put them in the refrigerator for later. The colder the egg, the easier to peel.
Grab your peeler and have a go at peeling all 5 pounds of potatoes.
Yes, you can make a smaller batch and use less than 5 pounds, but this potato salad is even better leftover after the flavors have blended together so you might just go ahead and make a whole big bowlful.
By the way, don’t put those potato peels down your garbage disposal unless you’re in love with a plumber. I learned that one the hard way. Or maybe you’re one of those cool people with a garden and compost pile.
Cut the potatoes in half and place them in a large pot and cover them with cool tap water.
Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook them until they are tender when you poke them with a fork, but not falling apart – about 15 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, start chopping. 2 -3 stalks of celery or about 1 cup.
1/2 a medium onion or about 1/2 cup.
And 2 big dill pickles, also about 1/2 cup. My personal preference (and the way mom makes this) is for big, crisp Kosher Dill Pickles not the sweet ones.
Put all of the chopped veggies in an extra large bowl. I’d suggest using a bowl bigger than your serving bowl if you have one. It’s important to have plenty of room to gently fold the ingredients all together. If you’re trying to stir and are crammed for space, the potato pieces are likely to fall apart.
By now the potatoes should be tender. Drain them well – really try to shake out all of the water – and let them cool just for a minute so they don’t burn your fingers off.
While the potatoes are still quite warm, cut them into large cubes and add them to the bowl of vegetables.
Immediately sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of Cider Vinegar over the warm potatoes.
Season them with 1 teaspoon salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of celery seeds over the warm potatoes.
I think the celery seeds are the secret flavor to this potato salad. You can find celery seeds in the regular spice section at the grocery store. I’ve made potato salad without them (I was out and didn’t want to run to the store) and it just wasn’t the same. They add just a little extra zip of flavor that you can’t get with any substitute.
Add the mayonnaise. I usually end up using about 1 1/2 cups of mayo however I would start with 1 cup, give the salad a light stir and then add more. It’s easy to get this too gloppy with mayonnaise if you just dump it in all at once.
At this point, give the potato salad a quick taste and adjust the seasonings. You might need a little more salt or even just a bit more vinegar.
If your eggs are cool to the touch, slice them up and add them to the potato salad. Easy slicing if you have one of these handy gadgets.
Handy Tip: If you have the patience to clean the cheese off the little wires, the egg slicer makes perfect slices of mozzarella cheese for Caprese Salad.
Add the egg slices to the salad and very gently fold them in.
The longer the salad chills in the refrigerator, the better it gets as all the flavors sink into the potatoes.
Although I’ll confess to almost always eating a bowl of the slightly warm salad right away. Cook’s treat.
Here’s the recipe: