Thursday, July 24, 2014


I’ve mentioned at least four times on this site that I hate potato salad, usually in the context of…trying another potato salad recipe. Two of those haven’t really stayed in my life, while two more have become old favorites, but none were traditional American mayo-based potato salad, which I still thought repulsed me until I saw this recipe at Two Peas and Their Pod (shared, ironically, by another former potato-salad hater). And it looked delicious! Who even am I anymore?

Ever since I started making my own mayonnaise, my feelings about it have slowly shifted from revulsion through tolerance to outright enjoyment (of the homemade stuff only; for any mayonnaise encountered outside my own kitchen I’m still stuck somewhere between revulsion and tolerance). Now that it’s summer, I find myself with a bowl of mayo in the fridge almost constantly so that I can enjoy my favorite seasonal meal, BLTs and corn on the cob, as often as possible. But since my nice preservative-free mayo won’t last forever, I’m always looking for ways to use up the dregs of a batch. So I looked at this potato salad recipe and realized it would accomplish that, while also containing a bunch of other ingredients I now enjoy: eggs (cold eggs also used to repel me), mustard (hated it as a child), pickles, dill…. Yeah, this was really happening. I was craving potato salad.

I thought it seemed odd that the recipe called for russet potatoes, since the standard wisdom seems to be that red ones are best for salads. I did a bit of Googling, however, and found an article at Serious Eats demonstrating that the granular, open texture of russets absorbs seasoning far better. Sold! I should have read the rest more closely, though, and followed its potato-cooking method, because the directions from the Two Peas recipe (cut potatoes in half, boil them, then cut into chunks) didn’t really work out—I thought it seemed suspect but gamely followed instructions, and as I feared the pieces varied widely in texture, with some still a bit crunchy while others were crumbly. The second time around (spoiler: I liked this enough to make it again), I followed the Serious Eats findings for optimal potato texture (cut into chunks before boiling, add salt and vinegar to the water, and sprinkle a bit more vinegar over the warm potatoes so they absorb the flavor) and everything turned out perfectly. The only other tweak I made was to add a bit of dill pickle juice to the salad for more acidic brightness.

Folks, I know I’m no potato salad expert, but I’m pretty sure this is the best one around. Cutting the mayo with Greek yogurt lightens it up a bit, I love the crunch of the celery and pickles, and the salty-creamy-tart elements are perfectly balanced. This is a bit of a dangerous discovery, because I think I could eat this stuff all the time. I would be questioning my whole identity at this point, except I don’t think we can count me as an unabashed potato salad lover quite yet. I tried someone else’s at a barbecue recently and felt indifferent. And who knows? Maybe diehard potato salad fans will try this and be unimpressed (although I really don’t think so). All I know is that it’s the right one for me.

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½- to ¾-inch cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 tablespoons vinegar (white, wine wine, or rice wine work well)
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mayonnaise (for best results, use homemade)
1 tablespoon yellow ballpark mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped dill pickles, plus pickling liquid to taste (optional)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

1. Add 2 quarts water to a large saucepan. Add potatoes, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Spread them into an even layer, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon vinegar. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then place the potatoes in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustards, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and gently stir with a spatula until the potatoes are well coated. Add the onions, celery, pickles, pickle juice to taste if desired (start with about a tablespoon), eggs, and dill. Gently stir again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 5-6
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great.

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