Potato salad is a classic dish for summer salads, barbecues, dinner parties, sandwiches and snacks. It also very versatile as a classic picnic food and side dish for a variety of meals enjoyed by all the family. There is a lot of difference between a fresh, tangy perfect potato salad with a nice balance and texture and the run-of-the-mill uninspired soggy, bland concoctions that many people make.
It is also true that most of the population may not have tasted a perfect potato salad. While ignorance is bliss, and they probably do not know what they are missing, it's time to reveal all the secrets and tips for the perfect potato salad. There will be no turning back.
These potato salads are truly inspiring and worthy of accolades. Perfection is guaranteed by following these tips and recipes.
Potato salad, by itself is quite bland. The combination of potatoes and its creamy quell and hide the potential tastes of the mayo or dressing. Call for reinforcement by adding strong spices, pepper, herbs, salt and other flavors. Don't hold back, blow the bugle and charge in with lots of flavor.
Potatoes vary widely in their texture and the varieties available also vary. Choose a waxy local potato with a creamy interior like Russets, Red potatoes and Yukon golds. The russet potato has a granular open texture that is far better for absorbing the seasoning than other potatoes with a dense and waxy texture. You may need to try several local varieties to decide on your perfect spud.
The peel or not to peel that is the question - There are many advantages for leaving the skin on, provided the skins are clean and in good condition. They add extra, color, texture, intrigue, they help to keep the potato intact and they add extra nutrients and fiber.
Whether you cut the potatoes into cubes or wedges does not really matter, but the size of the pieces should be very uniform. this is essential when cooking the potatoes so that they all reach the same doneness at the same time. Don't cut the pieces too small. You want to be able to bite into a firm potato piece and be rewarded with the flvor of the potato itself.
The potatoes should be neither under-cooked (too firm), nor over-cooked (too mushy). The perfect potato piece should be tender and a little fluffy all the way to the center, yielding but not too firm. The skins and outer layer of baked potatoes should be firm, but not hard.
► Baking the Potatoes - The real killer for a perfect potato salad is over-moist and over-cooked potatoes. Boiling in water makes potatoes moister than baking them. If you have the time, the ultimate way to go is to bake your potatoes first, preferably in their jackets or brushed with oil so that they are crisp. They should be still a little firm when you remove them from the oven as they will keep cooking while they cool down. Chopped and baked potatoes pair very well with fresh herbs, Dijon vinaigrette, bacon, anchovies and capers.
► Grilling the Potatoes - Cooking the potatoes on a hot grill is similar to baking, but you get a smoky taste and the appeal of the marks left by the grill. This adds extra taste highlights and color.
► Boiling the Potatoes - This can be tricky, but adding plenty of salt to the water, which should be simmered rather than boiled vigorously is a good start. Don't over-cook the potatoes. Place them in a colander when you remove them as they will steam and dry out as they cool. Boiled potatoes should be a little firmer than baked ones, because they will be moister when cooked.
► Cool the Potatoes or Not? - Don't let potatoes cool down before adding the vinaigrette. This allows the vinaigrette to intrude into the potatoes rather than just running off as its so thin. Alternatively, don't add a mayo style creamy dressing to the cooked potatoes while they're still warm. Let the potatoes cool down for least 30 minutes before mixing. The heat from the hot potatoes may cause the mayo sauce to break down and separate into its components. This does not apply if you are using yogurt or sour cream instead of mayo.
Perfect potato salad should be very colorful and intriguing. The bland white heap of creamy potatoes may be quite uninspiring. The cream and mayo tends to swamp the colorful small bits with white. Add lots of chunky and colorful bits that look appealing and mouth-watering. Leaving the skin on the potatoes, the brown bits of baked potatoes is a good start. Eggs, bacon bits or salty prosciutto adds yellows and browns. Fresh herbs, olives, grilled red pepper and vegetables add green, red and purple colours. Forget creamy white - go for a colourful pallet for your masterpiece.
The classic flavor of crispy bacon can be expanded with other salty meats such as prosciutto. Anchovies and even sardines and dried fish adds flavor. The saltiness of these ingredients works well.
You know how food always tastes a little more bland after you've let it refrigerate? Don't let this happen to your potato salad. Season it once it has chilled (if you don't plan to serve it warm).
Perfect potato salad needs perfect balance. This applied not only for the dressing, but also for garlic, onions, herbs and other inclusions. Don’t over do it. But make sure there is enough to get noticed for color, texture and taste. Simplicity and balance are the keys.
► Onions - Most people regard including some onion varieties to be essential. Spring onions, white onions, shallots, chives, leeks or red onion all work well. Aim for just the right size so that you can taste them, but not too small that their flavor and texture gets lost
► Herbs - Most herbs are suitable for potato salad. The stables are coriander, basil thyme, chives and parsley (various types). Mint and rosemary and many others also go well in a potato salad. Remember that potato salad is served cold and these means adding more herbs and flavors than you would for warm dished.
► Vegetables - Can be used to add crunch, colour, flavor and to boost the nutrition of the potato salad. Things to try include: turnip tops, shredded carrot, peas, bean slices or slivers, broad beans, sweetcorn, courgette, shredded red cabbage, asparagus, beet, celery, micro-leaves, radishes and watercress.
► Fish - Flaked mackerel, sardines, swordfish and tuna chunks, dried fish and other seafood can add interest to a potato salad. Anchovies add flavor and a salty seasoning.
► Chillies - Some people like to add fresh, finely chopped chillies to their potato salad.
► Spices and Sauces - Dijon or Wholegrain mustard sauce are the classics, but you can also consider horseradish, mint sauce and caraway. Spices to try include: turmeric, paprika, mixed curry powder, miso, tamarind, pomegranate paste or various Thai, Indian and other Asian curry pastes.
There are many options. Below are the best recipes for homemade Mayonnaise and Vinaigrette and other option such as yogurt and cream.
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. While the motor is running, gradually drizzle in the oil and pulse until a thick and pale sauce is formed. Adjust the seasoning with pepper, salt, extra mustard or lemon juice. Cover and chill before adding to the potatoes.
Whisk the vinegar and mustard together and then slowly add the olive oil in a fine stream. Add the chopped parsley and shallots and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Whisk together the oil, mustard, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the chopped herbs and capers and stir through.
Try various combinations of dressings to achieve the best taste and personal perfection. One good choice is one third homemade mayonnaise, one third Greek yogurt, and one third crème fraîche, seasoned with lemon and a little mustard (optional). You can lighten the dressing by omitting the mayonnaise and just combining the yogurt and crème fraîche. Adding condiments can boost the flavor of your homemade mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing. Some options are sweet chilli, pickle relish, corn relish and many others.
Bake or grill the potatoes, as described above. To boil the potatoes, Add 2 quarts (2 litres) of water to large saucepan and add the potatoes. Then, add 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Heat over moderate to high heat, until it just boils, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, until they are just tender. Drain the hot potatoes in a colander to shed excess moisture. Spread the potatoes over a baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature (about 30 thirty minutes). Using a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar and vinegar. Then mix in the celery, parsley, pickles, mustard, onion, scallion and mayonnaise. Fold in the cooled potatoes, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Chill before serving topped with fresh herbs.
Hard boil the eggs, cool, peel and cut into quarters. Dice the unpeeled, washed potatoes into 2 cm (3/4 inch) cubes. Place in a large pot of simmering salted water and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Drain and cool in a colander and then chill in a refrigerator. Chop the spring onions. Chop the bacon into bite-size pieces and fry over high heat so the bacon is well browned, but not too crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Assemble the potato salad by adding the chilled potatoes to a bowl and mixing through the mayonnaise, onion salt, garlic. eggs, spring onions and bacon.
Chill before serving.
Cut the potatoes in thirds or quarters and then boil for 10-15 minutes until just tender (do not over-cook). Combine the other ingredients and mix through the potatoes. Chill before serving.
Bake, grill or boil the potatoes, draining well so the pieces are dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Boil the eggs and slice or chop into medium size pieces. Using a small bowl, combine the vinegar, scallions, red onion, sugar, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper until well combined. Add the eggs to the potatoes in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and bacon and mix through. Add the eggs and mix through. Serve chilled.
Bake, grill, boil or steam the potatoes, until just tender. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.Boil the eggs and set aside to cool. Toast the mustard seeds in a fry frying pan tossing frequently, until the seeds start to pop. Grind in a spice mill. Whisk the mustard with the vinegar and honey in a large bowl. Gradually add oil in a fine drizzle and whisk until emulsified. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set aside. Halve the warm potatoes and add to bowl with vinaigrette. Having the potatoes still warm, helps the vinaigrette penetrate into the heart of the potatoes. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter and add the eggs cut in half. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle over the chives, pickles and toasted mustard seeds. Served chilled.