Potato Salad: Ain’t Nothin’ Better.

I’m not a huge Ron White fan or anything (you couldn’t escape him in 2004 and his “you can’t fix stupid” bit), but I am forever envious of the fact that he came up with the nickname “tater salad” first. If there was one food-related nickname that I have earned based on sheer metric tonnage consumed, potato “tater” salad would be right at the top of the list.

I get that that’s a dated and obscure reference, but I can’t contain my jealousy. Were you all outside this weekend?  I mean, at least in my neck of the woods, the sun shone brightly, the birds chirped at appropriate times, and the very earth seemed to embrace the concept of spring. I mean, it was getting to be perfect pale ale weather “¦ speaking of which, PSA time. Hey  vegans and vegetarians, you know how some beers and wines use animal products in the production process? Well, there are several online lists with veg* friendly booze, and here’s a link to get you started.

Where was I before that PSA? Oh right, it was perfect pale ale weather and nothing marries a pale ale half as perfectly as cold, crisp, delicious potato salad.

No surprises there, of course. I love me a good starch. I love me a good carb. I love me a good starch-carb-combo. Now, there’s a big hullabaloo about mayonnaise or vinegar salads being the best. Clearly we all have our opinions and clearly each of our opinions is the absolute correct one. I fall squarely into the vinegar camp. Just plumb don’t care for mayonnaise. We can fight about this if you want, in fact, I would love a good debate on the merits of potatoes bathed in mayo, but right now I want to talk about my vinegar potato salad.

Two years ago, I helped run a weekend retreat up in the mountains ““ we were responsible for entertaining and feeding 25-40 people. It was a great time except that I got altitude sickness and I couldn’t shake it. While others went hiking around, seeing awesome shit, I sat around trying to figure out why nothing to do with my body made any sense any more. With all my free time, I read The Moonstone and got to spend a lot of time preparing for the evening cooking marathons.

We made this potato salad the evening we fired up the big grill outside the barracks. The sun was getting low in the sky and two or three young men in rolled sleeves leaned around the open flames, checking the meat and veggies, and nursing bottles of cheap beer. My friend and I worked in the kitchen, heaving heavy knives and chopping vegetables and fresh herbs. We mixed everything together in gigantic soup tureens and left the salad to sit and the flavors to meld. As the salad unwound and relaxed into its full flavor, I grabbed a beer and went outside to warm myself like a lizard on a sun-warmed rock.

It wasn’t until the sun had fully sunk that the food was ready, and warmed by the alcohol and the rock, I was more than ready to eat some cold, tart potato salad. Let me tell you, nothing hit the spot quite like it, and every time I eat that salad, I recapture that night a little bit.

So here’s the approximate recipe for a dish that’s best made approximately.

A lot of red potatoes (like, 10 or something, you know, the potatoes aren’t huge, just big enough to palm)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (start here and tart up as you see fit)

3 teaspoons olive oil

4-5 stalks of celery, chopped up as fine as you like

1 bunch of scallions (or red onion if you prefer a stronger crunch)

Fresh chopped dill to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the potatoes up into big chunks and boil like any old potatoes. When they’re all nice and soft, take them off the heat, drain them, and pour them into a bowl. Just throw everything together and mix it up or shake it up however you like. Cool it down in a fridge and I dare you not to eat half of it before it gets completely chilled.

Serves just one, if you’re me.

8 replies on “Potato Salad: Ain’t Nothin’ Better.”

I make my potato salad with a twist: I use half russets and half sweet potatoes. Combine with dill relish, chopped scallions (be generous with them), a tsp mustard, and either olive oil mayo or sour cream depending on who is coming over and if it has to keep a long time. It is especially good with barbeque or grilled food. It sounds weird but the sweetness of the sweet potatoes offsets the scallions and the dill relish and it is SO good. I don’t like regular potato salad, but I love the one I make. The recipe above sounds pretty awesome, too. I’m going to try it!

There is dill in this potato salad. WIN. My granny’s potato salad looks a lot like this, plus just a little sour cream – not enough to make it creamy but enough that it doesn’t read as “oily” either. My uncle adds bacon and jalapenos.

My mom’s potato salad is one of my favorite things ever. She does not discriminate between vinegar and mayonnaise; rather, the cooked potatoes first get tossed in vinegar (and a little sugar) (and a lot of salt) and then mixed in mayonnaise when the other ingredients are added. Celery. Onions. Vlasic dill pickles. Hardboiled eggs. Bacon. Boom. It’s a perfect food.

Ya’ll ready for the best potato salad EVER? Grilled potato salad. That’s right. I said GRILLED. Boil your potatos until just fork tender. Slice 1/4 inch slices, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on grill for about 5 minutes each side. In the meantime mix together honey mustard, apple cider vinagar, finely chopped red onions, parsley and olive oil. Yeah, i don’t know amounts, just enough! :) Mix. Let sit as long as you want. Eat. Enjoy.

“Yeah, i don’t know amounts, just enough! Mix. Let sit as long as you want.”

When it comes to salads, isn’t that always the way it goes? Like “Add some olives, or don’t, you know, you don’t HAVE to have olives. Oh and by some I guess I mean as many as you want? I mean, not all olives because then it’s just olive salad, but you know, within reason…” And on and on and on :P

(I think it’s better that way, to be honest – then you an tailor your salad to whoever is around and whatever your tastes are dictating that day)

I come from the world of potato salad that is mayo and mustard base (as opposed to oils and vinegars….my pasta salad is oil based). I love both but mayo/mustard all the way for me. Also have to have boiled eggs in it. No excuse.

Its best cold at the beach with pasta salad and cold chicken on a hot day

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