Monday, July 18, 2011

Homestyle Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of my favorite summer side dishes. However, for years I didn't make it myself because I thought it was too hard. Whenever I tried, it never turned out the way I liked it. After doing some research, I discovered that I was really making things more difficult for myself and that potato salad is really very, very easy.

The first thing you need to do is start your eggs. I like to start them in cold water. The water should just cover the eggs.

There are tons of tricks out there to making sure your eggs peel well. I've noticed, since I started using farm-fresh eggs, that it's very, very difficult to get a good peel on the eggs, because they're just so fresh. (It's best to use older eggs.) Unless I want several cartons of variously-aged eggs in my fridge, I don't really have a choice in that matter. To get the best peel out of my eggs, I use a variety of techniques. First I give them a nice, big pinch of salt.

Next I pour in a healthy amount of vinegar.

I heat the pot over medium heat and do nothing until the water starts to boil. I let it boil for a minute or two (although there's no harm in letting them go longer, if you forget or lose track of them.) Then I turn off the heat and let them sit for about 5 minutes.

Then I move them to the sink and run cold water over the eggs until they are cold enough to handle.

Each egg gets a thorough cracking all over the shell.

Even with all that, I don't always get a perfect peel. The eggs are just too fresh. Sigh. How come the professionals never have this problem?

If you really want to avoid this issue, use older eggs from the grocery store. I understand they will also peel better if they have been pasteurized.

Anyhow, let's skip to the potatoes, since you'll also need some of them.

I was too lazy today to bother with scrubbing potatoes (and our dogs love potato peelings), so I peeled my potatoes. If you like more rustic potato salad, leave the skins on.

Then dice them to the size you want them to be. I like my potatoes in a finer dice.

Throw them into a pot of well-salted, cold water, and boil them until they are your desired texture of doneness.

We're very technical here. "Boil until they're done how you like 'em." What is that?

When they get to that vague stage of doneness that I've just halfheartedly described, drain your potatoes (and try not to burn yourself!)

Move your drained potatoes into the bowl you'll end up making the salad in. Then toss the bowl into the fridge to cool the potatoes.

I've tried making this with both hot and cooled potatoes, and I much prefer the texture with the cooled. The dressing is creamier and is just more visually appealing.

While the potatoes are cooling, you can start on the dressing. First, mince up some onion. I used purple onion because I had it on hand and I like the color it adds.

Then nab yourself some green onions and chop up the white and green parts. Again, more color!

And I just love the crunch.

For even more crunch, grab yourself some nice celery. I like to use the innermost stalks; they are light and crisp without being fibery.
I like chopping up the celery leaves, too. Nothing wrong with them!

Now back to the eggs. I split them in half and separate the whites from the yolks.

The whites get diced and tossed into the bowl with the "crunchies".

The yolks go in another bowl. We're going to make the dressing in this bowl.

Plop the mayonnaise in with the yolks.

A squirt of yellow mustard will add a little tang (as well as its yellow color!)

And don't ever forget the salt and pepper!

Now stir everything together--use the back of the spoon to smoosh up the egg yolks to incorporate them into the dressing. They'll make your dressing rich and creamy.

Then you can throw in the diced egg whites.

At this point, I spoon everything--dressing and crunchies--in with the potatoes.

You can either serve this right away, or let it sit in the fridge for the flavors to meld. Make this for your next picnic and any potato salad lovers will thank you!

Recipe: Homestyle Potato Salad

3 lbs. potatoes (3 large, or 6 small)
3-4 eggs
1 large pinch salt
2 tbsp. vinegar
1/3 c. red onion, finely minced
2 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced
2-3 stalks celery
2 c. mayo
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel and dice potatoes; cover with cold, salted water. Boil until tender. Drain potatoes; move to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.

In a separate pot, cover eggs with cold water. Add salt and vinegar. Boil for 1-2 minutes; turn heat off (but leave eggs on burner.) Let eggs sit for 5 minutes; move pot to sink and rinse eggs with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Peel.

Cut eggs in half and separate whites from yolks. Chop whites and move to one bowl; move yolks to another bowl.

Add onions and celery to the bowl with the egg whites.

Add mayo, mustard, and salt and pepper to bowl with yolks. Use the back of your spoon to mash yolks into a paste and incorporate with the mayo.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately and enjoy!


  1. I'll have to try adding the yolks into the dressing. The recipe I use is pretty much like this one, only with hot sauce, paprika, and pickles. It's sooo good.

  2. I didn't think of hot sauce, I'll have to add some next time. Last year I bought Mr. Kim Chee a Hot Sauce of the Month club membership for a few months so we've got a few different kinds sitting around ;)