Mema’s Potato Salad by Popular Request

Recently I posted a photo of my potato salad, along with a little update on my personal Facebook Page: “Good intentions and well laid plans . . . we are having a barbecue at my sister’s house today. It had been my intention to make a potato salad YESTERDAY. But a migraine had other plans. So at 4 am I was up making a salad (the migraine now a dull roar). Guess what? Best darn potato salad I’ve ever made!! And so pretty. I made a few extra eggs, then “deviled” them for a garnish along with some green onion blossoms and chopped scallions.” As a result, I received requests for the recipe. It’s one I’ve shared before as part of larger holiday menu ideas (Memorial Day Menu 2 – A Feast for a Crowd and The Birth of a Nation – An Independence Day Celebration in Food). It never occurred to me that sometimes, within a collection of backyard recipe favorites, the little details such as an unassuming potato salad might get missed.

This recipe is one I’ve been using for years, and it never fails to be a crowd pleaser. Even the non-potato salad fans become converts. (Hubby among them. Occasions that naturally call for potato or macaroni salad, I usually make both with it since Hubby’s favorite is macaroni, while Kiddo and I prefer a potato salad). Up until recently, Hubby hadn’t even tried my potato salad. When he finally did, he let me know it wasn’t like the store-bought kind (dah!) and that he liked it.

I remember my mother’s potato salad – which is almost nothing like the potato salad I make. Hers was pink. Just what all she put into her salad, I don’t know. I do know there were potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise – but that’s where the similarities end. Mom’s “secret ingredient” was beets, her signature pink potato salad. She garnished the salad with asparagus, the kind that comes in a jar or can. The thing I remember most about Mom’s salad was that the kids all left behind a plates of uneaten beets. When I made potato salad for the first time on my own, two ingredients were intentionally omitted – the beets and the limp asparagus. While I do miss her signature pink color, I don’t miss the beets.

If you want to dress the salad up a bit, as pictured, then simply boil up a few extra eggs, devil them and there ya go. To make the onion blossoms, simply trim the root ends from some green onions, then cut about an inch or so at the base, slit it several times and dip the onion into ice water. The shock of the cold will cause the onion to “curl”. If the onion is very pale, you can add food coloring to the ice water and the onion will soak in a bit of the color. The longer the onion is left in the water, the more color it will absorb.

A nice variation to the basic recipe would be to add chopped bacon, cubes of Cheddar Cheese and increase the amount of sour cream. It easily transforms from a Potato Salad to a Loaded Baked Potato Salad which is equally yummy. The beauty of any basic potato salad recipe is that it is versatile – lending itself to an array of additional ingredients that bring new depth and texture to the plate. Have fun with it – and make it your own, with your personal touches.

Mema’s Potato Salad
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 Eggs, hard-boiled
1 Red Onion, minced
2 Celery Stocks, minced
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings, warm (Optional)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoons Mustard
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar plus a sprinkling for potatoes
Kosher Salt & Fresh Black Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Parsley or green onion for garnish

Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with 1-inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with red wine vinegar and set aside in refrigerator to cool.

Place eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-14 minutes, then plunge eggs into cold water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, roll egg on counter to crack the shell. Return eggs to cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the eggs easier to peel.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine onions, celery, bacon drippings, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Peel and chop 3 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in 4th egg to create two tulip flowers. Reserve 1 flower, chop other and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Smooth out top. In the center, using the back of a spoon, create a small indentation. Place Egg flower into indentation. Sprinkle top of salad with parsley or chopped green onion for added color. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.

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