One of my favorite things about the arrival of spring is the ease of grilling again. Don’t get me wrong–I condone grilling through all 12 months of the year, but let’s be honest. In the Midwest it’s a tad inconvenient to grill when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and you have to shovel a path to the grill or, at the very least, you have to don heavy winter coats, hats, and gloves to get the meat on the grill. I suppose one bonus is that your beer stays cold, but…
So it’s warmed up and I’m ready for a good, warm-weather meal. I’ve got the brats, but I’m missing the sides–potato salad sounds great. So do baked beans, but let’s wait on that. Back to the potato salad… I’m hoping it’s on sale at the grocery store, and it is–but $4.99 still sounds like a lot for a 3-pound container of a few hard potato chunks suspended in a tub of mayo. Oh, and I forgot that my husband has the kid-carting vehicle, thus making a trip to the store impossible. So…
I’m pretty sure I haven’t made a successful batch of potato salad yet, and I know it’s a lot of work for iffy results. (I have yet to not end up with crumbling potatoes.) But, nonetheless, I crack open my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook to remind myself of the work involved, fully expecting a bunch of extra steps to get it right. Huh. 3 steps. No peeling of hot potatoes. I have all the ingredients. And it doesn’t make a huge bowl, but just enough for 4 to 6 people. Perhaps this might work after all. I follow the directions and get…
Not the results I’m supposed to. My potatoes are overcooked exactly as was warned about in the intro. To top it off, I had started to make the dressing in the “meanwhile” as directed. So, now what?
Whatever, I think to myself, let’s proceed. We’ve got to have something alongside these brats! So, I do exactly that. I finish the recipe but I go a little further. I increase the mayo, add some sour cream and some dill, and make sure the salad is sufficiently mashed with chunks of potato in there for good measure. I chill it (not really for an hour like they say, but till the rest of the meal is ready), cook me some brats (and some quick homemade baked beans), and we eat. I deem the potato salad failure a mashed potato salad success!
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
- 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes
- 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- 1 celery rib, chopped fine
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tbsp. dill or sweet pickle relish or chopped pickles (the original recipe calls for the sweet pickle relish, but I prefer dill–do as you prefer)
- 2 Tbsp. minced onion (red is in the original; I only had yellow and it worked)
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (thanks to milder Ohio winters, mine came back up!)
- 3/4 tsp. dry mustard (I used about 1-1/2 tsp. spicy brown mustard because I’m out of dry mustard)
- 3/4 tsp. celery seeds
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dill weed
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4″ cubes (optional–I didn’t use these)
- Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just warm, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together celery, mayonnaise, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, celery seeds, pepper, sour cream, dill weed, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using rubber spatula, fold dressing into potatoes, mashing to desired consistency. Gently fold in eggs, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve. (They state that the potato salad can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)