August 16th, 2018

Ess, Ess/ Eat, Eat

The art and secrets of making amazing potato salad (Incl. time-tested techniques; 3 recipes!)

 Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan

By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan Philadelphia Daily News/(MCT)

Published July 24, 2015

The art and secrets of making amazing potato salad (Incl. time-tested techniques; 3 recipes!)
No one is really sure when people started serving potato salad chilled with a mayonnaise base, but this version was originally made with homemade mayonnaise before there were convenient grocery stores. Mayonnaise made at home is a totally different item from what we buy in jars at the store in that it doesn't have the acidity level and is made with raw eggs instead of pasteurized eggs.

Come to think of it, once it goes bad, it would be a good way of knocking off your favorite food critic. But modern mayonnaise-based potato salad is made with store-bought mayonnaise, which has to have a high level of acidity to be sold in mass production. That acidity level is what makes commercial mayonnaise a natural preservative.

When I go to a backyard barbecue, and as always am fashionably late, the first thing I do is head to items that were made with store-bought mayonnaise.

Here are a few tips for creating your own critic-free, fun potato salad.

1. Use waxy (red bliss or Yukon gold) not starchy potatoes (russet or baking potatoes).

2. Do not salt the water. It will begin to break down the potatoes.

3. Let them cool naturally. Do not run them under cold water (potatoes are like a sponge and will absorb the water.

4. Hard-cooked eggs are totally optional and will not make or break or your potato salad, though you'll find them in classic southern or American potato salad recipes.

5. If you have a favorite bottled salad dressing, use that next time and see how you like it.

6. I love onions, so that means regular onions, green onions, and chives all make it into my potato salad.

7. If you are a pickle fan and like adding diced pickles, and your recipe calls for a little vinegar, try a little of the pickle juice --- especially if your dressing needs to be thinned out a little. 8. And though this is certainly not classic, I like adding blanched vegetables to my potato salad (this is a great way to get your kids to eat those horrible green things).

9. My mom would add grated cheese to potato salad, and growing up in Texas she would toss a little bit of salsa in with some cheddar and or pepper jack cheese with some jalapenos for a southwestern flair.

10. But most important thing is that the following recipes will wear well on your picky guests.


Makes 6 servings

  • 2 1/2 pounds small Red Bliss or Yukon Gold potatoes

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions

  • 2 teaspoons minced chives

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and cut them in quarters or, in eighths (but try to cut them into even sizes). Place them in a single layer in the baking dish.

Scatter the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the salt and pepper over the potatoes, and toss. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing gently every 10 minutes.

Beat the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining olive oil until smooth. Add the roasted potatoes and oil. Beat the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining olive oil until smooth. Add the roasted potatoes and mix gently. Season, if desired, with additional salt and pepper, and cool to room temperature. Just before serving, fold in the green onions, chives, and rosemary.


Makes 4-6 servings

  • 3 cups diced cooked new or Yukon Gold potatoes

  • 1/2 cup diced celery

  • 1 tablespoon diced pimiento

  • 2 tablespoon chopped sweet pickles

  • 2 tablespoons finely diced sweet onion

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon Creole mustard

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)

  • Combine potatoes, celery, pimiento, sweet pickles, and onion; chill.

When ready to serve, combine remaining ingredients; toss with chilled potato mixture.

Add a little more mayonnaise if necessary and taste for seasonings


Makes 8 servings

  • 4 cups cubed peeled potatoes

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

  • 1/4 cup chopped celery

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Cook potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Add onion, green pepper, celery; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer until tender; drain off fat. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir the sour cream with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Combine sour cream mixture and potatoes in a large serving bowl and garnish with sliced eggs.

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