So tomorrow is Independence Day, and many of you will be celebrating with cookouts. And what could go better with steaks or hamburgers than potato salad? So (inspired by my fellow guest blogger Baylen Linnekin) I’ve decided to provide my own recipe for those of you who don’t have one, or who have one but don’t really like it, or who’ve only ever eaten store-bought potato salad. This is a South Louisiana-style salad, and you’ll notice it’s fairly simple; some people add spices, celery, green onions, crumbled bacon or other such variations, but the majority of the potato salad you’ll find served up (often with or even in a bowl of gumbo) in the Greater New Orleans area and westward toward Baton Rouge will be pretty close to this. My sisters liked it warm, but since my husband and I like it cold I made it today so it will be thoroughly chilled by dinnertime tomorrow.
Small russet potatoes*
1 large egg per potato
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise per potato
1 heaping tablespoon prepared yellow mustard per 2 potatoes
1 tablespoon pickle relish per 2 potatoes
*I don’t mean anything tiny like new potatoes; just buy a normal bag of cheap russet potatoes and choose the smallest ones in the bag; if they’re large enough to make satisfying baked potatoes, they’re probably too big. Overlarge potatoes don’t boil properly, and the result will taste more like mashed potatoes than potato salad.
1) Start water heating in a large pot; you want just enough to totally immerse the potatoes and eggs. Wash and peel the potatoes, largest to smallest, tossing them into the water as you finish peeling each. Then add the eggs to the water and set a timer for 25 minutes; check back after 15 minutes and the water should be boiling. If it is not you probably used too much water; just wait until the water boils and reset the timer for 10 minutes.
2) Once the time is up scoop out the eggs with a slotted spoon and drop them into a container of very cold water. Then scoop out the potatoes one at a time, checking each for doneness with a fork; if you can easily stab the fork into the potato, it’s done. Allow any potatoes which aren’t quite ready to boil for about 5 more minutes, then test again until they’re all done.
3) Peel the boiled eggs and put them in a large bowl. Crush them thoroughly with a fork until all large fragments are broken up. Add potatoes and smash them thoroughly with a potato masher. Then add all the other ingredients and mix very well.
4) Taste salad and add more condiments as needed. Since potatoes vary widely in size it’s very difficult to specify exact measurements; I’ve been making this since my late teens and I still have to adjust it nearly every time. If the salad is too dry add a little more mayo; if it’s too bland add more mustard, and if it’s too starchy add more relish. Keep in mind that the flavors become more pronounced as the salad cools; after you make it a few times you’ll get the hang of it.
5) Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 4 hours for best flavor.
If you enjoy this recipe, I’ve published two others on my blog; back in February I presented my sister’s recipe for chicken and andouille gumbo, and in January of 2011 I explained how to make king cake.