My mother made a great Potato Salad. There is no denying it. My mother was always the first one to say that she was not a great cook, but I beg to differ. There are a great many meals my mother prepared for her family through the 80-odd years of her life, that we all look back on with great fondness, including her Potato Salad.
It graced our supper table often during the summer months and was something we all enjoyed a great deal, and no small wonder, it was and is delicious! I do not mind telling you that her Potato Salad was and is the best I have ever eaten!
As a child, I was always in the kitchen watching my mother cook and prepare meals for us. I absolutely loved to silently sit and observe. Mom was not one who liked little hands getting in the way. I suspect she was worried that we might get hurt. She did not mind me watching, however. She was always very methodical in her work, cutting everything up neatly, and by hand.
She eschewed modern conveniences and tools. She was happy with her simple knives and box grater, and rotary eggbeater. I am much the same, although admittedly I am not adverse to using a few things to make things easier from time to time.
Mom’s Potato Salad is well flavored with just the right amount of crunch. It is rich and creamy, and yet not mushy. Mom always began by marinating her potatoes in a simple vinaigrette dressing while they were still warm. The potatoes would drink this in, and only once it had all been absorbed would she add in the other ingredients. This preliminary step is the key to the deliciousness of her salad.
I, of course, have been making it myself, for my family and for others for about 45 years now. It is an extremely popular dish to take to Cover-dish Suppers and Pot-lucks. I always come home with an empty bowl. Summer cookouts would just not be the same without my mother’s potato salad gracing our table!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE MOM’S POTATO SALAD
Of course there is absolutely nothing complicated or out of the ordinary required to make my mother’s potato salad. Simple ingredients simply prepared and put together in the most delicious way.
|INGREDIENTS for Salad|
|New potatoes, unpeeled|
|One small lemon|
|Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|½ of a medium English Cucumber|
|Finely chopped onion|
|A good quality mayonnaise|
|Store bought coleslaw dressing|
|INGREDIENTS for Garnish|
|Finely chopped fresh chives, salad cress or chopped parsley (optional)|
|Thinly sliced hardboiled eggs|
|Ground sweet paprika|
HINTS AND TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST POTATO SALAD EVER
If you follow my hints and tips there is no reason why you cannot make a potato salad just as good as my mother’s!
- Read through the recipe several times before you begin in order to help familiarise you with any ingredients and equipment you might need, or any steps you will need to take. This helps to prevent costly mistakes.
- Assemble all of the ingredients that you will use ahead of time. This is called Mise En Place, which is French for everything in its place. This will help to prevent you from leaving anything essential out by accident.
- Use the freshest and best ingredients that you can. Fresh new potatoes, well washed and unspotted. Fresh Crisp celery. Fresh cucumber. Fresh onion, etc. This is not the time to use up the withered potatoes in the bottom of your potato bin, or the limp and manky celery languishing in the bottom of your refrigerator vegetable bin. Save those for soup.
- Make sure your potatoes are well scrubbed before you boil them and use potatoes of an equal size so that they all finish cooking at roughly the same time. It is important to use a new potato rather than an old potato. New potatoes hold their shape better and are less likely to go mushy.
- Boil your potatoes in a generous amount of water, making sure they are all well submerged.
- Do not overcook your potatoes. You want them to be just fork tender and able to hold their shape.
- Have your initial dressing ready to pop your warm cubed potatoes into as soon as possible after cooking so that they absorb as much of this dressing as possible.
- Peel your potatoes as soon as you can comfortably hold them in your hands, cube and immediately drop them into the vinaigrette.
- Mince your onion fairly fine. Nobody wants to bit down on a large piece of raw onion. Feel free to use chopped scallions in the place of onion if you wish. They do have a milder flavour, so you will need more of them for the same taste impact, but they do add colour. Do not, in any case, use red onions. Although milder in flavour than regular onion, they can stain your salad an unsightly red or purple colour.
- To hard-boil your eggs, start with room temperature eggs. Place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and cover. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for a minimum of 14 minutes and a maximum of 17. Drain immediately and put into a bowl filled with ice water. I always use large free-range eggs, so if your eggs are smaller it might not take quite as much time. (Did you know that older eggs peel easier than fresh eggs?)
- Do not overcook your eggs. Overcooked hardboiled eggs have an unsightly grey ring around the yolk, and they smell quite sulphurous. This is quite unappealing.
- Trim your celery and remove any strings from them. This is very easily done. Simply catch hold of the strings, one at a time, between your thumb and a knife, and pull firmly down the length of your stick of celery. Discard the strings.
- I know that if you wash your cucumber really well you do not really need to peel it, but for this salad, I do remove the peels. It is a texture thing.
- Cut your cucumber and celery into evenly sized cubes.
- Use a good quality mayonnaise for the dressing for the best flavour. I also use a quantity of store-bought Coleslaw dressing/salad cream. If you cannot get either one of these, then use Miracle Whip in its place. If you do need to use Miracle Whip, loosen it a tiny bit with a smidgen of vinegar along with a pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity of the vinegar.
- Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together smoothly and taste, taste, taste. You want a perfect balance of flavours. Not too salty or sweet. You also do not want it too tangy. Remember the potatoes have been marinated in a lemon vinaigrette.
- Gently mix everything together taking care not to mash the potatoes.
- Keep it simple. Some people add far too many extras to their potato salads, which really interferes with the integrity of the salad. This is a potato salad and any additional flavours should be mellow. A bit of crunch from the cucumber and celery is nice, but you do not want to be adding things like radishes, etc. which will not hold up well over time, and actually might bleed obnoxious colours into your salad.
- Let the salad chill for a couple of hours before you serve it so that the flavours have plenty of time to meld together.
- You can get fancier with your garnishes. I like to use thinly sliced boiled egg, minced chives or parsley, a sprinkle of paprika (not too much, again it can bleed), a sprinkle of micro-leaves/sprouts. Radish roses are nice. Take care not to add any garnishes until just prior to serving the salad.
You know some people just add far too much to their potato salads. They become sort of a free-for-all of flavours and textures. I do not think that chopped peppers and the like add anything much to a potato salad, nor do olives. When it comes to a great potato salad, keeping it simple really is the best way to go.
HOW TO MAKE MOM’S POTATO SALAD
Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water, until tender just to the fork. Drain well and as soon as you can handle them, peel, and cut them into 1/2 inch dice.
Toss in a bowl along with the lemon juice, chopped onions, oil and salt to taste. This preliminary dressing while very warm gives the potatoes extra flavour and coats them. This prevents them from absorbing too much mayonnaise later on. Allow to cool.
Add the black pepper, celery, chopped eggs and cucumber. Blend 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with the salad cream, vinegar, and the sugar.
Pour this over the potato salad, gently folding until all pieces are coated. Add the remaining mayonnaise only if the salad seems dry.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Spoon into a clean bowl and smooth the top. Lay the sliced hard boil egg over top. Cover and chill for several hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle with some chopped fresh chives, salad cress/micro leaves or chopped parsley, if using, and ground paprika.
WHEN TO SERVE POTATO SALAD
Potato salad really goes with just about anything. It is great at BBQ’s along with steaks, burgers, chicken, or hot dogs. It is perfect to take on picnics. Simply pack it into an airtight container and keep it chilled in a cooler until you are ready to serve it.
The leftovers (if any) are great packed into smaller containers and taken to work as a light lunch. On really hot days we enjoy it with cold sliced meats such as ham, chicken, or beef. Mom often served it with cold tinned salmon. It is also great served alongside of cold poached salmon steaks or fillets.
One thing is for certain, when you make this delicious salad your family will be clambering for seconds. It is unbelievably delicious and a salad to be proud of. At Potlucks, BBQ’s, Picnics, get-togethers or just for simple family suppers, it is sure to become an often requested salad in the hot summer months! Enjoy!
- 8 medium sized new potatoes, unpeeled
- The juice of one small lemon
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- Fine sea salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 stalks of celery, washed, trimmed, and chopped
- 1/2 of a medium English Cucumber
- 4 hardboiled eggs, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
- 2 TBS finely chopped onion
- 1 cup of good quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup of coleslaw dressing
- 3 TBS cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Finely chopped fresh chives, salad cress or chopped parsley (optional)
- Ground paprika
- 2 hardboiled eggs thinly sliced
- Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water, until tender just to the fork.
- Drain well and as soon as you can handle them, peel, and cut them into 1/2 inch dice.
- Toss in a bowl along with the lemon juice, chopped onions, oil and salt to taste. This preliminary dressing while very warm gives the potatoes extra flavour and coats them. This prevents them from absorbing too much mayonnaise later on. Allow to cool.
- Add the black pepper, celery, chopped eggs and cucumber. Blend 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise with the salad cream, vinegar, and the sugar. Pour this over the potato salad, gently folding until all pieces are coated. Add the remaining mayonnaise only if the salad seems dry. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Spoon into a clean bowl and smooth the top. Lay the sliced hard boil egg over top. Cover and chill for several hours.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with some chopped fresh chives, salad cress or chopped parsley, if using, and ground paprika. Delicious!!
Marie Rayner is a retired Chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, food blogger, and Cookbook author. She makes her home in Chester, UK, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their much beloved English Cocker, Mitzie. Her motto is “Life is far too short to eat bad food,” and her goal is to share delicious and easy recipes which anyone can enjoy and cook in the comfort of their own home.