Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good Potato Salad (it's all about the salsa!)

My dad would always request mom's "Taaate-a" salad.  He's not from the south or anything, but his father grew up in North "Caroliiiiine-a" so I guess that's where we got it from.  While the recipe is nothing southern, it is the best, HANDS DOWN, potato salad I've ever had to this day.

Here are some of my personal rules in Potato Salad:
-only dill pickle, no sweet, and plenty of them.
-not too much celery,
-real potato chunks, not mashed potatoes
-keep your herbs simple and clean.
-SEASON IT WELL, if it's lacking salt and pepper it's a crying shame
-give me a little bit of bite in it, nothing too noticeable, but will make you pause
-it must be visually appealing, not baby food looking

OK... maybe I'm a little bit picky, but that's because mom's really is the best.  Dad thought so, and so do we.    I can think of several Sunday afternoon lunches of weekend leftovers where we would just pile potato salad on our plate with nothing else and call it good.  I think I've changed a few things (fresh vs dried herbs, kosher dill pickles instead of cornichons), but I still give mom all the credit.  Apparently my mom's mother would also use pickle juice.  Why haven't I tried that yet?!

About 2 lbs potatoes
6-8 large eggs hard boiled
About 1 cup chopped celery
About 1 cup chopped pickle
1/2 cup green onion
3/4-1 cup mayo
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup medium salsa
1-2 tbls sea salt
1 tbls fresh cracked pepper

Wash your spuds.

Place them into salted boiling water after cutting them in half- cuts down on the boiling time.  Check them after 10 min.  You want them fork tender.  A little on the softer side is better than a little on the harder side.

Ladle your eggs into their own pot.  They should be a room temperature.  It's not nice to shock them.  Bring water to a boil and simmer them for 12 min.  The yolk will be hard but not chalk.  Then let them cool in cold water after.

EGG TIP: When they have cooled, roll them with slight pressure as to bring the shell.  Run them under cold water so the water will get between shell and egg.  This makes life so much easier when peeling the eggs and the whites will remain beautiful and smooth!

In the mean time, chop your celery and pickles.

Slice up your green onions.  Cut off any bad ends.  Life is too short for bad onions.

And there's something so nice about them being cut diagonally.  It doesn't have to be perfect, but it gives a little dimensional edge to the salad.

Now start combining.

I remember when I was a kid, before I liked mustard or mayo (I know, I was a bit odd), I saw my mom make potato salad for the first time.  I exclaimed "what are you doing?!"  She had deceived me all these years.  I had LOVED her potato salad as a kid but never knew what was in it!  Lo and behold I kept eating it.  And maybe mustard and mayo weren't so bad.

Add all your green chopped things.  I usually have flat leaf parsley around, but decided to use up the curly variety that I had leftover.

Then the salsa.  This is the secret weapon.  This is the game changer.  The closer.  The unexpected.  The unforgettable.  And what a great way to use what's left in the bottom of the jar that a chip can't reach!

It's so pretty I almost don't want to dig in.  But I did.


  1. Sometimes I add some paprika on the top for color! I have some potatoes I should use...Maybe surprise Dad with Tater salad for being a good boy!

  2. Sounds great! I've been using my grandmother's version of German potato salad forever: fry up platter bacon until crisp, saving a couple of tbsp. of the grease in the pan. Add some cider vinegar to the saved bacon grease (amounts are always a work-in-progress because there was no written recipe), bring to boil and pour over the (Yukon)potatoes, eggs, celery, chopped Vidalia or Maui onion, and bacon bits. Salt and pepper liberally and toss with mayonnaise to taste. Best if fixed early in the day and chilled.