My Mom made the most amazing potato salad. When she was invited to pot lucks people would ask, “And you’re bringing potato salad, right?” She’d smile – she had a great smile! – and say, “Of course, if that’s what you’d like me to bring!” She was gracious, my Mom.
Know what? She never wrote the recipe down. I don’t really know where she learned it or if she just made it up. She wasn’t an adventurous cook. She made some things amazingly well – so well that at every holiday and family gathering someone will ask me if I’m bringing my Mom’s potato salad or Mom’s rice salad, or the like. Even nearly two years since she passed away!
I was probably about ten or so when she started teaching me how to make her potato salad. My Mom – the woman who followed recipes to a “T” made her potato salad – get this – by COLOR. If you ever knew my Mom – particularly in her declining years, that probably made you laugh out loud! Mom LOVED color. (Hmmm… wonder where I got that trait from!?) Honestly – she was one of those people who had a sparkling personality – and could pull off wearing the most vivid colors with a grace and beauty that I have seldom encountered.
So cooking by color. Go figure. Actually, being a totally non-measuring type of cook, that works for me! I wonder if she warped me that way somewhat?! LOL!
So see the shirt Mom is wearing in this picture? The yellow-ish one? THAT is generally the color this potato salad is supposed to turn out. It will smell a little bit mustardy, a little bit mayonnaise-y, a little bit ketchup-y, a little bit dill pickle-ish. It’s a GREAT smell. And it tastes amazing – seriously, my mouth is already watering!
As it turns out, we’re going to my cousin Bob’s house Friday night for a BBQ and movie night – in celebration of the last day of school finally being over. Guess what I’m supposed to bring! J
Okay – here goes. THIS is how you make Mom’s Amazing Potato Salad!
Were I organized like Ree over at Pioneer Woman Cooks; I’d have a first photo that showed you all of the ingredients at the beginning. I’m not that organized. Someday, maybe. In lieu of that, I’ll just be my disorganized self and show you how I go about making this potato salad in my own special kind of ADD-ish way. (We’ll talk more about that later – I have a touch of it, or at least my husband is convinced I am!)
First, you gotta have a pressure cooker. I’m serious. It just doesn’t turn out as good if you don’t. And you gotta use red potatoes. I don’t like the little bitty ones; they’re a total pain in the butt to peel. So I try to find a dozen kinda medium sized red potatoes, and throw them into my pressure cooker. See?
Here’s a picture of my pressure cooker with the lid on. See the little graphic on the handle? That means, “If you don’t know for sure how to use a pressure cooker – READ THE BOOK! IT’S IMPORTANT! IT COULD SAVE YOU FROM BLOWING THINGS UP IN YOUR KITCHEN! REALLY!” Okay? Just want to point that out. It’s an important point.
Here’s what my pressure cooker looks like when it comes up to pressure. This is when you turn the timer on and turn the heat down to about medium. I pressure cook these for about 15 or 20 minutes. Don’t overcook them – it’s a mushy, icky, gross mess if you do. So use a timer, okay?
THIS is what they’re supposed to look like when you open the pressure cooker up. Isn’t that cool? They’re half way peeled already!
I lay them out on a cutting board and let them cool a bit. There’s no sense in burning the bajeebers out of your fingers.
I wasn’t kidding when I said they nearly peel themselves. You’ll only really need a knife for a few spots.
As I get them peeled, I transfer them into the potato salad bowl. This is a BIG bowl. It was my Mom’s potato salad bowl. It almost wouldn’t be Mom’s potato salad if I didn’t bring it places in this bowl!
Once they’re all peeled, go ahead and dice them up. Doesn’t have to be perfect – which is good, cause I don’t do perfect much at all, if ever.
Now this is important – WHILE THE POTATOES ARE STILL WARM, add about a cup of ranch style dressing or dip, and about a cup of dill pickle relish to the potatoes. If you happen to be one of the happy recipients of my husband’s amazing home canned dill pickle relish, by all means use that! If not, your favorite will do. Here at our house, if we’re out of the homemade stuff, we use Steinfeld’s – of course! Sadly, they aren’t really the Steinfeld’s of old anymore they got bought out. I hate it when that happens.
This is kinda what it’ll look like. Go ahead, mix it up completely.
Now, throw a lid on the mixture and put it in the fridge. Really. I’m serious. For at least an hour. I usually do this first part in the morning, and then later on in the day when I have some free time, I finish it up.
Later on in the day when I’m ready to proceed, I hard boil the eggs. Yes, the recipe calls for 10 hard boiled eggs. Yes, there are a dozen in that pan of cold water with a smattering of rock sea salt in it. I actually like to put a couple of extra egg yolks in – I give my chickens the whites to eat – they love it! And, a note for those of us who raise our own eggs. Have you figured out yet that hard boiling fresh eggs is a total pain in the neck? I keep a flat of eggs in the fridge that I get a little bit older just for hard boiling. Also, throwing the salt in the water when you boil the eggs will help with peeling, as well. I find that the fresh home grown eggs also cook a bit faster, so I thought I’d give a quick rundown on how I cook them. Get a pan big enough for your eggs. Put cold water in – enough so that your eggs are completely covered. Throw some salt in that water – sorry, I don’t measure, I just throw some in. Now, bring them to a boil. When they are at a full boil turn the heat off and cover them with the lid to the pot. Turn the timer on for 10 minutes. Don’t wander away. Don’t get involved in stuff that will get you distracted. Stay close enough to hear the timer. When the timer goes off, drain the water off of the eggs. I bounce the eggs in the pan a bit so that they’ll crack some. Then I cover them in ice and let them sit until the ice is mostly melted. It takes about 10 minutes. NOW they peel like a dream! Ta da!
Okay – moving on. I like REALLY crunchy potato salad, so I put a bunch of diced celery in there. At least a cup of diced celery. If I’m feeling a particular need for more, then I throw more in. And sometimes I like to dice up some dill pickles to add some additional crunch, as well.
This is about what it’ll look like.
My Mom used to make this stuff called “goup.” It was made up of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and a little bit of Tabasco. She’d make us sandwiches with goup as the spread. It was in a lot of stuff – probably more than we ever dreamed! So – here you have all of the makings of goup, and yep, she put it in potato salad. There’s some kosher salt and pepper there, too. Yes, that pepper is a little bit different looking. That’s because I bought it in Spain. It’s black and red pepper. I love this stuff, and I use it liberally. You could use any pepper you like, of course, freshly ground would be high on the list of preferences.
So you put in about a cup of mayonnaise, about half a cup of ketchup, about a fourth of a cup of mustard, and a few shakes of Tabasco. Mix thoroughly.
Next come the hard boiled eggs. I believe firmly they should be grated on the finest size opening on your box grater. I wouldn’t go so far as to use a micro plane, but I kid you not, it’s just WAY better when you shred these fine. Once you’ve got them shredded, go ahead and throw them in and mix thoroughly.
I wait until the egg is in before I add the salt and pepper. I mix it in, and then I taste it. If it isn’t “bright” enough, then I might throw in a little bit more mustard. If it’s not creamy enough, I might throw in a little extra ranch dressing or dip, or mayonnaise. If it needs to be a little pinker, then I put a little bit more ketchup. Every once in a while it just seems to need more Tabasco. Here’s the thing – make it your own! You’re gonna love it!
Here’s what it looks like when it’s done!
I should tell you – it’s really important to give this the chance to spend the night in the fridge letting the flavors meld and develop. Friday early afternoon I’ll pull it out of the fridge, give it a good stir, and then taste test. If it needs any adjusting, then that’s when I’ll do it.
Ta da! That’s it! Mom’s Amazing Potato Salad. Make it – you’ll love it. So will everyone else!