Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ah-ha! The key to good potato salad

Old-fashioned Potato Salad
The Gourmet Cookbook Copyright 2004

2 pounds boiling potatoes
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup celery
½ cup chopped white onion
3 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
Freshly ground pepper

Combine potatoes with well-salted cold water to cover by 2 inches in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size. Drain and cool slightly.

Meanwhile whisk together vinegar and salt in a large bowl until salt is dissolved.

When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1-inch pieces, adding to vinegar mixture as you cut them, tossing gently with a rubber spatula to coat. Cool to room temperature.

Add celery, onion, eggs, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste to potatoes and stir gently to combine. Serve room temperature or chilled.


I would usually wing potato salad but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to try a new recipe. There isn’t anything unusual about this potato salad recipe but potato salad doesn’t need to be unusual. I’ve heard of the method of adding vinegar to the warm potatoes but I’ve personally not tried that before now. That is really the key to good potato salad, I now believe. My potato salad always seemed a bit flat and now I know why. I thought for sure I would miss the bit of yellow mustard I usually add but I really didn’t.

The recipe intro suggests which types of potatoes to use to avoid mushy potatoes but I happen to prefer mushy potatoes in my potato salad so I used russets. They suggest Round Maine, Yukon Gold or long whites.

I was actually surprised to find such a basic recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook. The intro to the recipes expresses a bit of shock that the ‘unfashionable’ cider vinegar was the vinegar testers liked best. I love cider vinegar and I had no idea it was ‘unfashionable’ . Which vinegars are ‘fashionable’? Why am I always the last one to know about these things?


Anonymous said...

Paula, I've enjoyed reading your blog.
I have so many cookbooks, but seldom
actually cook from them.

I thought your comment about adding vinegar to potato salad was interesting. I always add dill pickles to mine...Claussen's...and use some of the pickle juice to combine the mayo and mustard for a dressing.
My mother and sister used to just pour a little of it in the potato salad.
Maybe that works similar to using vinegar. I love good old, old fashioned potato salad, but no two cooks make it the same.

Randi said...

I make my potato salad this way too. I follow Cook's Illustrated recipe and it comes out so good.