How to Make the Perfect Potato Salad
I love potato salad, but when I make it myself I usually just squirt some mayo and mustard onto boiled potatoes and season with salt and pepper. It's good, but not great. This weekend I learned how to make not just great, but Great potato salad, from none other than Food Network star Tyler Florence. He was the celebrity chef at Safeway's World's Longest Picnic Table event, where he demonstrated how to make a couple of easy picnic dishes. This was one of them. Even more valuable were his tidbits of information on how to make the perfect potato salad. I'm sharing Tyler's tips here with you, but don't tell anyone else or I'll have to silence you:
* Yukon gold potatoes have the best consistency for potato salad (and russet potatoes make the best french fries!).
* Boil your potatoes from cold water (i.e. put them in a pot of cold water and boil them, instead of putting the potatoes in boiling water) so they cook evenly.
* If you let the dressing stand for at least 1 hour, the flavors will blend and your potato salad will be even more delicious.
* You can make your potato salad a day ahead of your event, but don't combine the potatoes and the dressing in advance; the potatoes will absorb some of the liquid in the dressing and end up too starchy.
Here's Tyler's recipe for his mother-in-law's potato salad. I made a few changes, some intentional (to make it a little bit healthier), some unintentional (forgetful me), and I'm including my changes in italics to show you that you can play a little with the recipe and still end up with a great tasting final product.
Open Nature Summertime Potato Salad
2 lbs. small Yukon gold potatoes
2 large eggs
1 pinch kosher salt for cooking & final seasoning
1/2 bunch sliced scallions, white & green parts, reserving some for garnish (silly me, I bought shallots instead of scallions, so my potato salad didn't have any scallions, but that's the only reason I omitted them)
2 tbsp drained capers, reserving several for garnish
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light mayo)
1/2 cup Open Nature Greek Yogurt (I used the nonfat version)
1/2 cup Open Nature Sour Cream (I used more of the greek yogurt instead)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with 1/4 cup juice, about 2 pickles (I used 1/4 cup pickle relish, and in retrospect, I probably would have used a bit less than 1/4 cup)
1/2 small onion, chopped (Tyler used a red onion, and so did I)
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bunch dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced (I didn't have a fresh lemon so I used 2 Tbsp Safeway bottled lemon juice)
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling.
1) Put potatoes and eggs into a big saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to a simmer. After 12 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and let cool. Continue cooking the potatoes until a pairing knife poked into them goes in without resistance, about 3 minutes longer. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let cool.
2) Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, mustard, pickles and juice, onion, scallions, capers, parsely, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes.
3) Peel the cool eggs and grate them into the bowl. Break up the potatoes into rough chunks, add to bowl, and toss to coat with the dressing. Season to taste with sale and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with reserved scallions and capers.
The dill and yogurt give this salad a lovely fresh taste. Yum.