Not Yo Mama’s Potato Salad
I have a sensitive palate. It’s easily assaulted, intensely opinionated and it rarely fails me when trying to predict all the ingredients in a dish from a restaurant that I wish to duplicate at home. Because of this, I sheepishly admit that my homemade potato salad was rather simple and unassuming. I am a firm believer that simple food is good food. Taking a basic potato and using a few simple ingredients to enhance the flavor of the potato and make it shine is the mark of a good chef.
While in culinary school I learned about a Student Culinary Competition Team that competed on a national level for the American Culinary Federation. I knew I wanted in, but I’d only been in school for 8 weeks when the try-outs were announced. Surely only students who had been there for 2 or more years were going to try out, and, who was I to think I possessed the skills required to make the team? I approached my current instructor and asked him to truthfully assess my skill set and candidly tell me if he felt I was good enough to try out, or if I was just stark raving mad for even entertaining the thought.
Two weeks later I was trying out for the team. I felt woefully out of my league, noticing that most of the students in the kitchen were part of the 2 year program and had a lot more experience than I. I also knew that if we were going to be tested in knife cuts, that once I pulled out my knife, I’d find my zone and I’d be able to hold my own–at least for the knife skills assessment. Thankfully the first test was a knife skills assessment and sure enough after the first few cuts of a potato, I was deep within my element and neither my knife nor my hands failed me. I received high praise for all my cuts. Whew!
The second test was to butcher a chicken, and perfectly debone and sauté the breast using nothing but the oil of our choice, salt and pepper. We also had to make mashed potatoes using salt, white pepper, butter and milk or cream. I have to admit my heart sank because I never sautéed chicken breasts; TSM and I were dark meat people. I also tended to finish any meat off in the oven after browning it on the stovetop. I just didn’t finish meats on the stovetop because I stunk at it. Meat was always either overcooked or raw in the middle. I had decided that my potatoes were going to have to be really awesome to make up for the fact that my chicken breast was probably going to be a disaster. It would be seasoned well, but I didn’t trust my lack of experience in cooking a chicken breast. No, these mashed potatoes were going to have to blow the socks off the Chef judging each student. Thankfully I possess a remarkable gift; I can make a potato taste amazing.
I’ll abridge my story so that we can move on and discuss this spectacular potato salad recipe. I knocked the chicken breast out of the park. The Chef said my potatoes were some of the best he’d ever tasted and I made the team. I also successfully managed to not let my head swell an additional 2 sizes from the pride and excitement I felt in making the competition team. That’s probably more amazing than the fact that I made the team.
I tell you this story so that you understand how important it is to make food taste really good without adulterating it with too much of one ingredient or another. Simple is best. That maxim is evident in my cooking. It also explains my no-frills potato salad recipe. When I tried this recipe that I’m about to share with you now, I had to throw that apothegm out the window.
I found this recipe on a lovely blog called the Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve tried many of Michelle’s recipes and with some adapting to meet my Real Food requirements, or to just make it a bit healthier I’ve walked away with a handful of recipes that I use on a regular basis.
Her potato salad recipe contained things that I typically don’t care for in a potato salad. I don’t like raw onions, or raw green bell peppers. I don’t like big chunks of ingredients that provide opposing textures in a potato salad because it offends my palate. Ha! I realize that made me sound like a snob. Well, if the food shoe fits… I decided to give this recipe a try because it contained two magical words: bacon grease. That’s right I said bacon grease. This recipe contains not only bacon but one other very important bacon related ingredient; the bacon grease. If you’re afraid of bacon grease, it’s time to suck it up and make this recipe and then laugh about your unwarranted fear of bacon grease. I’m asking you to step outside your comfort zone and partake in what is quite possibly the most divine potato dish I’ve tasted. Ever.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe and this is now my go-to potato salad recipe and everyone that has eaten it has loved it. The Brown Eyed Baker aptly named this “Best Ever Potato Salad” and she is absolutely correct. It really is the best. Ever!!
If you are like me and you like simple when it comes to potato salad, or you like it when the potatoes are cooked to mush and that mush mixes with the mayo and you get a thick, gloppy, pile of starchy boringness with small remaining hunks of mealy potatoes, then keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times because this potato salad is nothing like that. This potato salad is going to wow and amaze you. This potato salad might just become your next best friend.
Best Ever Tater SaladRecipe adapted from: The Brown Eyed Baker Servings: 8 Time: 1 hour
- 5 cups organic red potatoes–unpeeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
- 10 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup homemade or organic mayonnaise
- 1 scant TB Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons organic cane sugar–this is NOT optional and is needed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (feel free to add 4 eggs if you love hard-boiled eggs)
- 1 stalk celery, diced small
- 1 small onion, diced small
- ½ green pepper, diced small
- 1 TB freshly chopped organic flat-leaf parsley
- Fill a large bowl halfway with water and add a few cups of ice cubes. Set aside.
- Boil the potatoes in well-salted water until they are just tender–insert a paring knife into a potato and it should release fairly easily. Do NOT over cook these potatoes or you’ll end up with mush salad. Not potato salad. Drain the potatoes and then quickly plunge them into an ice bath for 30-60 seconds, drain again and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon and onion in a skillet over medium heat until the bacon is cooked tender, not crispy and the onions are nicely caramelized . Remove bacon and onion mixture with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the skillet. You may need to pour off excess grease while you’re cooking the bacon and onions. Turn off the burner.
- Add 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar and salt to the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet and whisk to combine. I do this over the warm burner. Homemade mayo will yield different results as it does separate slightly. It’s not mixed by machines like grocery store mayo, so keep that in mind. Your salad will not look like the typical white, gloppy overly mayonnaised potato salad you’re used to.
- In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, and green pepper. Pour the mayo mixture over the ingredients and gently stir to evenly coat. Stir in the bacon and onion mixture. Fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and the chopped parsley.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
This recipe is featured over at Everyday Mom’s Meals. Each Sunday, Krista invites food bloggers to share a great recipe for her Church Supper Blog Carnival so please be sure to stop on by!
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
This sounds amazing! Making it this weekend 🙂 I’m going to add a little fresh dill I’ve been growing and plus it gives me an excuse to buy some Applegate Farms bacon for Sunday’s brunch 😉
Real Food Girl
It really is so yummy! I’m glad it gave you an excuse to buy more bacon!! Love it!
Try adding in some lovage. That’s a great potato salad herb my mother has always used, it’s a great addition.
Real Food Girl
You’d think after the amount of money I spent going to Le Cordon Bleu they would have mentioned that herb just once. LOL! Once we’re settled down in South Carolina after our move, I’ll look for some lovage plants or seeds. I’m now completely intrigued. Thanks for letting me know about this!
The recipe sounds good & I would like to copy it to my recipe file but I can’t. I see what you said above about the other options but I’m unable to send it to myself & the other options don’t appeal to me. One of the reasons I read these blogs is to get recipe ideas for my family. If I can’t copy & paste it easily, then I’m not interested in reading the blog. If you are afraid of others stealing your recipes for cookbooks, etc, then you shouldn’t place them online because they will find a way to use them.
Real Food Girl
First of all. Thank you for your comment, even though I’m a bit taken aback by its tone. I had to think long and hard about if I even wanted to respond to you. I chose to do respond so that it is understood why I make the decisions I make regarding my blog.
Second. I’m sorry that the myriads of options given to you to download my recipes so that you can have access to them apart from my blog are actions that “Don’t appeal to you”. You stated that you only visit “blogs like ‘these’” to get recipe ideas for your family. I am sorry that despite providing me with your email address that you are unable to email any of my recipes using the 3+ email options I provide to yourself, which would rectify your dilemma.
I am unwilling to change the settings on my site because it is not impossible to save my recipes. There are several ways to do so and these are the settings I’m most comfortable with as I don’t want my stuff stolen for others to make money off of. Despite the disturbing, growing trend based on misinformation, contrary to that popular, misinformed belief, what is online is not fair game and I have just as much right to protect my intellectual property, as does an author who chooses paper and ink as their writing medium.
I choose to pretend you did not actually have the audacity to come to my blog and share your last statement in your comment because your logic is faulty, and that statement was unkind and inconsiderate to say to someone who is providing you with all sorts of free, wonderful recipes so that you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars to get this stuff in a cookbook.
I wish you well and am sorry that my blog isn’t a good fit for you.
Sorry you took my comment as an insult to you. It was meant to let you know the difficulty I had in copying it. Your “myriad of options” didn’t work for me. I am involved with many other food blogs & yours is the worst for copying recipes. Your right when you say your blog is not a good fit for me. If you expect all comments to be positive, then you shouldn’t have a blog!
Hi this is a bloke question! 🙂
What does 1 scant TB mean?
Real Food Girl
Scant means ‘just under’, or ‘not quite’ a particular amount. So you’d measure out not quite 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.
Hope that helps.
It sounds delicious and I would love to make it for Fathers Day. I put all my recipes into Plan to Eat.com. But I couldn’t add yours; and I also couldn’t copy and paste. Do you have any thoughts?
Real Food Girl
Cindy, my blog has been the victim of dishonest people who use my photos and recipes to make cookbooks and profit from them without my consent. I’ve disabled the copy and paste feature. Your best bet is to use one of the many features I have available to email it to yourself, or print the recipe, save it to Pinterest, Facebook, etc. No one understands more than I what an inconvenience this is, but the few have ruined it for the many by stealing my intellectual property. 🙁 Hope this helps.
So about how long should I cook the potatoes so they don’t over cook? Forgive me… I’m learning! 🙂
Real Food Girl
Poppy, I cut my potatoes in 1/2 inch cubes (or slightly larger) and I’d say once the water starts boiling maybe about 4-6 minutes. I test a piece every 60 seconds or so after they’ve been boiling for 3 minutes. It’s trial and error I’m afraid. I’ve still managed to over cook a batch now and again. You can test the potato by putting a paring knife in the center and if the potato falls off the blade easily they are done. I personally trust my mouth more than a knife, so I’ll take a piece out, and cut it and eat it. You want them JUST cooked through. Not crunchy in the middle, but not mealy and soggy, either. Does that help? 🙂