Monday, June 18, 2012
Mom's Picnic Potato Salad
This is my mom's recipe. And I'm still kind of shocked that I replicated it exactly enough to spark up memories of my mom elbow deep in a big vat of this potato salad because "it's just easier to use your hands" to mix this stuff. My mom was a pretty decent cook. She didn't go over the top (she was far more interested in fun and family than spending all day in the kitchen), but she had a small arsenal of recipes that were just damn good. Most of which she rarely wrote down or even followed the same recipe twice. But she got this potato salad down pat and for family picnics or community gatherings, it was one of the dishes she made every time. It's got a perfect seasoning, a good ratio of chopped veggies to eggs and potatoes to dressing. And let's talk about that dressing. It's not heavy and you could certainly use a light version of Miracle Whip without sacrificing any flavor or consistency. Yes, I said Miracle Whip. It's a must--the fact that it tastes different from regular mayonnaise is exactly what sets this recipe apart from other potato salads. And again, you're getting a lot of the creaminess here from the eggs after mixing. It's really not a huge amount of dressing compared to the rest of the ingredients, and you can actually distinctly taste each flavor rather than using the potatoes as a delivery vehicle for mayo.
Twelve years ago Mom, as a board member of a community organization, was asked to put together a fundraiser in the form of a community cookbook. Mom compiled lots of recipes from the neighborhood and she and I both included some of our favorite, most-asked-for options. Just before Memorial Day I got a little down thinking that I never got Mom's potato salad recipe. On a whim, I checked out my copy of A Taste of Greater Hazelwood and couldn't believe it. The same recipe that my mother never measured anything for was the first one listed under the "Soups, Salads and Sauces" section. It was worth a shot, but I was convinced it wouldn't taste the same since Mom never measured. But it's spot on. I smiled and almost cried when I tasted, eager to get Dave's opinion ("That's the stuff, all right!") and looking forward to sharing it at future family gatherings. You can double this recipe, no problem. In fact, you could probably triple or quadruple it, but you'll need a really big bowl to do the mixing. When Mom had to make more than a double batch, she would make two double batches just to make it easier to mix. Whatever quantity you go with, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has.
Mom's Picnic Potato Salad
2.5 pounds red potatoes
6 eggs, hard boiled
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 cup mayonnaise (Miracle Whip preferred)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika (plus more to garnish, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
2 Tablespoons milk
Boil potatoes with skins on until fork tender throughout. Cool completely.
Remove skins from potatoes, cut into small cubes, and place in a large bowl. (Note: It's important to leave the skins on during boiling so the potatoes don't turn to mush before you are able to cut them.)
Remove shells from eggs, slice and add to potatoes.
Add celery, onion and green pepper to potatoes and eggs.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, salt, ground pepper, paprika, dill weed and milk until smooth.
Add to potato mixture and mix thoroughly. (Note: Take off your rings and get your hands in there. It's definitely easier to mix and distribute the dressing if you mix by hand.)
Makes 6-8 servings.
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