Potato Salad, My Way.

I believe in choice, my choice of potato salad being no exception. This choice is gut-driven and deeply personal.

The egg-rich salad insisted I use local eggs.

My grandmother made a simple potato salad that accompanied her fried chicken and hickory nut cake to our family reunions in Selma. She made that same salad when a tragedy befell a friend, the bowl of love left quietly on their porch.

My mother made the same salad that followed me through youth. I assumed that rightfully there would always be a Tupperware container of this piquant, cold, soul-satisying potato salad tucked into a corner of the fridge.

Pushing the yolks through a sieve is a technique I’d long since forgotten.

And, like so many things that one takes for granted,  I only realized its importance in times of crisis, when it was gone.  I knew the mayonnaise was made from scratch, but that’s about it. It was a taste, amongst so many other tastes, that I thought I’d lost forever.

I’ve tried to fall for other potato salads. Like a woman wandering the streets unattached, despondent, never attaching herself to a man because of the haunting ghost of a past lover –I’ve never tasted a potato salad worthy of my passion.

Making a mayo by hand is easier than you’d think..

A decade ago, I successfully recreated a similar old-school potato salad that also sniffed of buried treasure, reminding me of my college days in Michigan– Mashed Potato and Pickle Relish Salad.

Through the years I’ve blogged about other family’s favorite potato salads–A Tale of Potato Salad, my friend Susan’s family recipe for German Potato Salad.  It saddened me that attempts to recreate my own family’s  bare-boned, deceptively simple potato salad were failures.  Of late, I need my very own tater salad more than ever )-:

 My grandmother and mother–both instinctive cooks–  passed without penning a recipe. So I purchased the cookbook, “The Gift of Southern Cooking” by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. and hit pay dirt.

Opening it and thumbing through the recipes, I nearly cried with delight, especially when seeing their recipe for potato salad. This had to be the one! Chef Peacock  was raised in my era about three hours south from where I grew up in Alabama, and Chef Lewis in Virginia. Close enough.

They put egg yolks through a sieve, and stirred it into the mayo giving the salad an egg-rich, velvety mouth feel–just like my family did. I’d forgotten that technique. As expected, their mayonnaise was homemade and emulsified with a whisk–not a blender. For that satisfying depth of piquant flavor, they used  lemon juice AND apple cider vinegar–I’ve only used lemon juice in homemade mayo.

The times call for a throw-back dinner.

Out of necessity, I made a couple of changes to the recipe but it did not affect the final salad. Out of dry mustard, I used good Dijon, instead. (Trader Joe’s has a delicious, authentic Dijon, made in Dijon, France, of course.) I also used half of the onions as I was making the salad a day in advance to eating.  Raw onions bloom in recipes if not consumed on the day they are made. (Recipe below.)

During this crazy era we’re inhabiting, my taste buds are on full throttle nostalgia.  I served the salad cozied up to a grilled Delmonico. Hubby and I don’t often eat beef these days, and when we do, we don’t mess around. Here’s my absolute favorite way to grill steak.

What screams more of old-world steak house accompaniments than  a classic Wedge Salad? Of course, the salad is constructed atop the backbone of the least nutritious salad leaves available, with gobs of blue cheese dressing and chopped bacon piled atop–be still my heart–but that’s what makes it so delicious.

A fine bottle of Cab and, oh yes, my dreams were pandemic-free, filled with generous hugs, family reunions and ghosts from the past.

BOOK NEWS: My dear friend, Alison Ragsdale, has a new book out, DIGNITY AND GRACE.

A Scotswoman to the core, her books are set, primarily, in her mother-land, this being no exception. An Amazon review:

DIGNITY AND GRACE is the atmospheric, heartwarming story of a young woman retracing the steps of her mother’s last journey, on which she uncovers long buried secrets and difficult truths about the people she loves. Ragsdale confronts the emotionally charged issues of a tragic death with sensitivity, courage, and forgiveness.

This recipe is adapted from THE GIFT OF SOUTHERN COOKING’s recipe for Potato Salad.

Recipe: Potato Salad, My Way

Ingredients

  • 5 extra-large Yukon Gold potatoes (apx. 5-inches long X 3-inches wide)
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion*
  • 6 hard-cooked egg yolks, pushed through a fine sieve
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, preferably homemade (recipe follows)

*The original recipe calls for double the onions. (See above notes)

Instructions

  1. Scrub Potatoes, put them in a large pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat, partially covered, until quite tender when pierce with a knife (but not bursting). Drain.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Toss with cider vinegar, onions and season to taste with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and a cup of the mayo. Carefully mix into the potatoes. Add additional mayo, to taste. (Leftover mayonnaise is a wonderful base to tuna fish salad or spooned onto summer tomatoes.)

Active time: 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8 SERVINGS

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe:Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt*
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or dry mustard
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups light oil, such as vegetable or canola
  • 1 tablespoon hot water

*Kosher salt may cause homemade mayonnaise to break. Sea salt dissolves more quickly and should eliminate that problem.

Instructions

  1. Place the vinegar, lemon juice , sea salt and mustard into a bowl, and whisk until mustard is dissolved. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth.
  2. Initially, whisk the oil into the egg mixture, drop by drop. Then, slowly pour in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until you have a very thick emulsion and then whisk in the hot water. Refrigerated mayonnaise will keep seven to ten days, tightly covered and refrigerated.

Active Time: 10 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 1 1/2 cups

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More Recipes Filed Under "Feed Your Soul"

6 Responses to Potato Salad, My Way.

  1. Janet Nacu says:

    Love it! Inspired to make this today!!!

  2. Constance Crump says:

    How many potatoes, please? I’m sure it’s user error, but just not seeing it. It sounds wonderful. Simple is best.

    • Peggy Lampman says:

      I’m so excited to see your name pop up and it makes my day! I followed every restaurant review you ever wrote with relish! Anyway, thank you so much for pointing out my embarrassing oversight (duh). Note that in the original recipe, the Chefs call for 5 large all-purpose potatoes. I enjoy Yukon Golds in my potato salad but Russets or Reds are good, as well.

      • Constance Crump says:

        Everybody needs an editor – I know I do. Thanks for your kind words. I prefer Yukon Golds for potato salad, as well — I think it would take more than five, however — they’re small compared to all-purpose.
        I enjoy your recipes so much – and learn so much from you, such as raw onions “blooming” the next day – of course, but I never realized it until you said it. To extend the eggs-in-salad idea further, have you ever made Jacques Pepin’s Pan-crisped Deviled Eggs on French Lettuces? Just wonderful.

        • Peggy says:

          Oh yummy, I have not! I’ve known about the blooming onions from Back Alley experience, but using sea salt in homemade mayo was new to me. I’ve broken several homemade mayos in the past using kosher salt but, quote the raven, NEVERMORE. I’ve got a couple of Pepin’s old cookbooks and will search them out (although I’ll bet the recipe is on-line.) I believe you were at the same Jacque Pepin cooking class at Complete Cuisine many many moons ago. What wonderful days!

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