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eG Cook-Off #87: Potato Salad


David Ross
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4 minutes ago, rotuts said:

if potato is involved 

 

go broader.

 

its not so important what you call the result

 

as long as it Eats Well.

Not entirely safe around here.   Deviating from general understanding of a well known dish can get heated push-back.   I have added an herb or spice to a classic and been thoroughly lambasted.  

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31 minutes ago, David Ross said:

About two weeks ago I made a Salad Nicoise, with potatoes and of course included tuna.  So given our discussion, does the Salad Nicoise fall into a potato salad category?  Or, would it be considered a seafood salad, or a vegetable salad with tuna or a tuna salad.  Do potato salads have to be exclusively potatoes as the main ingredient, then garnishes like capers, pickles, eggs and bacon?  Or should we look at potato salads in a broader sense?

IMHO Salade Nicoise is a cold plate, one of my favorite summer suppers.

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10 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Not entirely safe around here.   Deviating from general understanding of a well known dish can get heated push-back.   I have added an herb or spice to a classic and been thoroughly lambasted.  

I agree potatoes must be the main ingredient in the potato salad, yet I also like adding additional things like herbs, spices and things we've discussed.  I think it's a good question to get everyone's feedback. I know that my niece and nephew who are much younger than I am like additions to their potato salad, yet with the potatoes as the main ingredient. They make a mayonnaise based potato salad with curry spices, slivered almonds and raisins and it's delicious.  Again keeping the almonds and raisins in small amounts. 

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3 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

IMHO Salade Nicoise is a cold plate, one of my favorite summer suppers.

That's a perfect term for a Salade Nicoise. 

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

Tossing potato salad with your hands is just going to break up the potatoes. It needs more gentle folding.

 

Of course, this is utterly ridiculous, as Richard Olney, Jeremiah Tower, et al. have pointed out in the section of The Good Cook referenced above.

 

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1 hour ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

IMHO Salade Nicoise is a cold plate, one of my favorite summer suppers.

 

1 hour ago, David Ross said:

That's a perfect term for a Salade Nicoise. 

 

What about salade composée?

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I was curious how the French view potato salad, so I turned to one of my cherished cookbooks, a signed copy of The Complete Robuchon.  I had Robuchon sign the book at an event in Las Vegas in 2010.  

Salade de Mache, Pommes de Terre, et Truffles-Mache with Potatoes and Truffles.  It's potatoes, 12, with "1 or 2 big black truffles."  That is an overpowering amount of truffles!

 

Salade de Pommes de Terre et Crevettes-Shrimp and Potato Salad, 1 pound of small potatoes, 1/2-1/4 pound small shrimp, mussels, onions, herbs and mayonnaise

 

Salade de Pommes de Terre et Celri-Branche au Jambon-Potato and Celery Salad with Ham

2 pounds potatoes, cider vinegar, celery stalks, heavy cream, herbs and 1/4 pound ham

 

Salade de Pommes de Terre au Celeri-Potato Salad with Celery Root

2 pounds potatoes, he often calls for Rattes, Charlottes, Finns or Russian Banana Potatoes, white wine, celery root, mustard, sugar, heavy cream and horseradish

 

Then there is Herbed Potato Salad, Potato Salad a la Parisienne which is potato salad with shallots, cipollini onions and herbs with a white wine vinaigrette

 

Complete Robuchon.JPG

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5 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I'm surprised Joel didn't just say - make mashed potatoes!

Even he cannot put all his potatoes in one basket. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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4 hours ago, weinoo said:

I'm surprised Joel didn't just say - make mashed potatoes!

Speaking of which, I've had a mashed potato salad. Kind of weird.

 

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31 minutes ago, kayb said:

Speaking of which, I've had a mashed potato salad. Kind of weird.

 

They do that in Newfoundland too, in some places. Mashed potatoes, frozen or canned peas, and Miracle Whip. Some add onion, some don't.

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I was still curious about how far back potato salad recipes go in American cookbooks, so I turned to one of the oldest in my collection, the 1913 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, owned by my Great Grandmother Jennie Pink.

 

There is Potato Salad 1-which includes onion juice, hard-boiled eggs, beets, parsley and a vinegar dressing.

Potato Salad 2-boiled then riced potatoes with pecans and French dressing served on watercress.

Hot Potato Salad-with a dressing made with tarragon, cider vinegar and olive oil.  

Potato and Celery Salad-with French Dressing, celery and red apple.

And then we have the Bolivia Potato Salad-potatoes, hard-boiled egg, red pepper, chives and cream dressing

 

Fannie Farmer 1913.jpegFannie Farmer 1913 #2.jpeg

 

Fannie Farmer Potato Salads.jpeg

 

Fannie Farmer Potato Salad #2.jpeg

 

 

 

 

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I tried a new (to me) recipe for potato salad from a fine cookbook, Feast of Eden: Recipes from California's Garden Paradise (eG-friendly Amazon.com link). It was published in 1994 so doesn't qualify as old by David's standards, but it is by the Junior League of Monterey County and I haven't had many misses from it.

 

Mediterranean Potato Salad adds capers, chopped fresh basil, and scallions to the cooked potatoes. The dressing uses lemon, garlic, olive oil, caper liquid (I had to substitute pickle juice, because my capers are preserved in salt) and dried basil. My, oh my this is good! I don't like gloppy potato salad and I detest sweet potato salad. This is neither. It has a delightful tartness thanks to the lemon and capers, and the olive oil lets each of the ingredients shine through.

 

20210718_222813.jpg

 

I think I made enough for a week's worth of lunches. Hallelujah!

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9 hours ago, Smithy said:

I tried a new (to me) recipe for potato salad from a fine cookbook, Feast of Eden: Recipes from California's Garden Paradise (eG-friendly Amazon.com link). It was published in 1994 so doesn't qualify as old by David's standards, but it is by the Junior League of Monterey County and I haven't had many misses from it.

 

Mediterranean Potato Salad adds capers, chopped fresh basil, and scallions to the cooked potatoes. The dressing uses lemon, garlic, olive oil, caper liquid (I had to substitute pickle juice, because my capers are preserved in salt) and dried basil. My, oh my this is good! I don't like gloppy potato salad and I detest sweet potato salad. This is neither. It has a delightful tartness thanks to the lemon and capers, and the olive oil lets each of the ingredients shine through.

 

20210718_222813.jpg

 

I think I made enough for a week's worth of lunches. Hallelujah!

That sounds and look delicious and I agree, I'm not a fan of gloppy potato salad.  The store potato salad sold in the deli sections always seems to have far too much mayonnaise for my liking and I ask myself, "where are the potatoes?" By the way I also have a few Junior League cookbooks and still refer to them.

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I didn't like deli potato the few times I tried them, not so much because there was too much mayo but because the potatoes were not completely cooked.  I dislike potato salads where the potatoes have hard uncooked centers.

 

 

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5 hours ago, ElsieD said:

I didn't like deli potato the few times I tried them, not so much because there was too much mayo but because the potatoes were not completely cooked.  I dislike potato salads where the potatoes have hard uncooked centers.

 

 

 

That raises a general question: whether to cut the potatoes before or after cooking. Most instructions that I read say to boil the potatoes, then allow them to cool, then slice or dice them as desired. A recent cookbook or two has said to dice them first, then cook them. It seems to me that the latter method would allow all the chunks to cook more evenly and quickly. I probably picked this idea up in a pressure cooking cookbook.

 

What say you all? Boil the potatoes, then slice/dice? Or cut them into chunks first, then cook? If the latter, what's your preferred cooking method?

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4 hours ago, Smithy said:

 

That raises a general question: whether to cut the potatoes before or after cooking. Most instructions that I read say to boil the potatoes, then allow them to cool, then slice or dice them as desired. A recent cookbook or two has said to dice them first, then cook them. It seems to me that the latter method would allow all the chunks to cook more evenly and quickly. I probably picked this idea up in a pressure cooking cookbook.

 

What say you all? Boil the potatoes, then slice/dice? Or cut them into chunks first, then cook? If the latter, what's your preferred cooking method?

Without giving this any scientific thought (I'm sure there are a number of readers who will be happy to) I've always suspected that relatively small cubes or dice, if cut before boiling, will absorb more water and result in mushy texture and loss of some potato flavor. Watery potato salad would be very bad. 

 

I use yukon golds during the winter for potato salad. If they are big (whatever that means to you)  I cut them in half before boiling. Then when still warm I cut them into chunks and then gently mix in several shakes of salt and splashes of vinegar. I let that sit a bit before adding whatever else I plan to use. In summerI like to make potato salad with French Fingerlings, which are my favorites; excellent in potato salad, in fact excellent fixed in a variety of ways. Farmers' markets should have baby red potatoes or other waxy candidates this time of year. 

 

Although I've absorbed lots of recipes for potato salad, I rarely use one. I've made a zillion potato salads and and they are never exactly the same. I suppose I've pretty much decided what works, and I'm flexible. Potato salad to me is a mood thing, if you know what I mean. Anyway I only have a few criteria: No russets. Always celery. Often fresh dill. Usually some kind of pickled thing. Once in a blue moon capers. Once, and only once, beets. These days I'm into smoked paprika. Sometimes I like just an olive oil potato salad with good vinegar.

 

The outlier potato salad is Japanese. The potatoes are just a few minutes from being mashed. The use of mayo is, to put it mildly, bold. There are peas and carrots in it. The main flavors seem to be salt, sugar and Kewpie. Sometimes it is inexplicably yummy. I've noticed that some recipes for Japanese potato salad include diced ham. But that's a little like a Russian potato salad! Except one uses Hellman's.

 

My least favorite potato salads can usually be found at pot lucks and BBQ joints. Potato salad isn't having a good day when it's a guest at a picnic in CA farmland and the air is a pleasant 95 degrees. Did they pre-measure the mayo before they realized they didn't have enough potatoes?

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1 hour ago, Katie Meadow said:

The outlier potato salad is Japanese. The potatoes are just a few minutes from being mashed. The use of mayo is, to put it mildly, bold. There are peas and carrots in it. The main flavors seem to be salt, sugar and Kewpie.

 

Yes. Here is a potato salad made by a Japanese friend in 2009. Basically as you describe, but with cucumber rather than peas. She is an excellent cook, but this was far from the star dish at the meal.

 

IMG_4703.thumb.jpg.2e1c0a47297d25406bb246e1c582b6e0.jpg

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9 hours ago, heidih said:

For me waxy cut first and russet type after.

That's basically me as well, though even with waxy potatoes I only cut them into halves or quarters (depending on size) and then finish dicing once they cool enough to be handled.

Edited by chromedome (log)
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"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Here is a potato salad made by a Japanese friend in 2009.

I really like Japanese potato salad while recognizing that it is nothing like American potato salad. But then I also love hot German potato salad. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Just now, Anna N said:

I really like Japanese potato salad while recognizing that it is nothing like American potato salad. But then I also love hot German potato salad. 

 

It didn't mean to suggest it was bad. It was just different and the other dishes she cooked were much better. Lovely lady, who is now back in Japan. The only person I was ever on nationally broadcast Chinese television with! But that's another story!

 

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