Saturday 6 August 2016

Bram's Potato Salad

I went to a BBQ yesterday and I brought homemade potato salad. I thought it would make a nice addition to the blog. Potato salad has become one of those dishes that few people seem to make anymore. It's so convenient to go out and buy it. It gets to the point where we start to believe that store bought potato salad is what it's actually supposed to taste like. It will always taste much better when you make it yourself. There are many different variations of potato salad. German potato salad usually is dressed with oil and vinegar and I quite like that too. Lots of people add diced pickles or relish to theirs. My version doesn't, but feel free to tweak it to your liking. Some people swear by yellow prepared mustard and others swear on Dijon. I happen to like them both so use your favourite. Often you will see potato salad with hardboiled egg in it. My favourite part about this dish is that the eggs are hidden. Rather than leave them in chunks I mince the egg and the yolk separately. The yolks go into the dressing and the whites are finely dispersed throughout the salad. As a result, they appear to be missing but their richness and creaminess come through when you eat it. 

When it comes to potato salad, I think waxy potatoes (like yellow, red, new and fingerlings) are better than starchy potatoes (like Russets, Yukons and Idaho) because they hold their shape better. Starchy potatoes get fluffy when they cook and I find are better suited for baking or mashing. Another good trick for getting the best texture out of your potatoes is placing them in cold water and bringing them up to the boil, then reducing to a simmer for the rest of the cooking time. Usually when we boil vegetables we add them directly to boiling water. Doing this with potatoes runs the risk of the outside being overcooked before the centers are cooked through. Potatoes don't have a lot of flavour on their own so boil them before peeling and slicing them. This helps to preserve their flavour. Season the water liberally with salt too. Lastly, when using a creamy dressing, always wait for the potatoes to cool before adding it. The main ingredients of the dressing are mayonnaise and yogurt. Both of which split and go runny if they're heated. Patience will pay off. 


2.5-3 lbs waxy potatoes (about 5, medium sized)
3 large eggs
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/4 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced

5 scallions, finely chopped
3/4 cup garlic mayo (can substitute with mayo and 1 tbsp garlic powder or just plain mayo)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (not runny)
1 tbsp your favourite mustard
1 tsp your favourite hot sauce (or to taste)
Pinch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1.5 tsp celery seed
Paprika for garnish

Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

If you don't already have hardboiled eggs you might as well cook them with the potatoes. It's just easier that way. They take about half the time to cook as the potatoes so you'll need to remove them first. Wash and scrub the potatoes to remove any dirt. Place in a pot with the eggs and cover with cold water then season generously with salt. While the potatoes are eggs are cooking, dice up the rest of your veggies.  

Bring the water up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the eggs and place them in an ice bath. After a minute, remove the eggs and peel them. Leave the potatoes in the simmering water for another 10-15 minutes or until they are fork tender. Make sure not to overcook or they will get mushy. 

When your eggs are peeled, separate the yolks from the whites. Give the whites a very fine chopping. Crumble the yolks into a fine consistency as well. 

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and allow them to cool enough until they are comfortable to the touch but still warm. Use a speed peeler or paring knife to peel away the skin (which will be very easy at this point). Then chop the potatoes into 3/4" pieces. 

Place the potato pieces in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and lightly dress them with 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Give everything a toss. There's not enough vinegar to make the potatoes sour. It's just to brighten up the flavour with a little acidity. 

While the potatoes cool completely, get your dressing together. In a large bowl add the crumbled egg yolks, garlic mayo, yogurt, mustard, hot sauce, celery seed, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine thoroughly. 

First, add the cooled potatoes and toss them in the dressing. Then add the diced veggies and toss until incorporated. Then add the finely diced egg whites and mix them in. Adding things in stages will make it easier to dress evenly and the more delicate ingredients won't get pulverized. 

Take a pinch of fresh parsley and chop it up finely. Add it to the potato salad and toss one last time. 

You are basically done! It's not ready to eat just yet. You need to let it sit in the fridge for at least one hour, preferably overnight. The flavours and texture will meld together and become so much better. Before serving give the salad a taste for seasoning. The flavour will change the longer it sits so adjusting the seasoning as close to serving time as possible is ideal. Before you serve, be sure to sprinkle the obligatory garnish of paprika.

The potato salad was a big hit. The perfect balance of creamy, crunchy and soft. The flavours were rich, acidic, aromatic, tangy and comforting. It made an excellent side dish to our ribs and chicken skewers. 

I really hope you give this a try. Feel free to tweak and personalize this recipe as you wish. It has a great amount of versatility so have fun. There is enough familiarity for it to work well as a potato salad while having enough quirks that make it unique and memorable. When people ask you for the recipe you'll know where to send them. ;)


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