Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Loaded Potato Salad

This seems an odd time of year for potato salad, but I live in south Florida where it's picnic time year round, and I made this for a friend's barbecue a few weeks ago!

My mom and grandma made the best potato salad in the world when I was a kid. Potatoes, hard cooked eggs, celery, onion, mayo and mustard. About seven years ago, I decided to play with the recipe and sort of update the ingredients - giving it a French twist in the process.

I used red potatoes instead of white, red onion rather than plain yellow and swapped out the regular yellow mustard for Dijon. After that, I added some grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground black pepper and tarragon or dill to the dressing, and finished the whole thing off with crumbled cooked bacon. Make sure to use good mayonnaise; cheap stuff will ruin the whole dish. I only use Hellman's, Best Foods or Kraft. One of those dishes that actually tastes better the second day, this is perfect to make ahead and take on a picnic.

To make enough for a crowd (at least 10 people):
  • 4 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and diced into bite sized pieces
  • 8 Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 8 slices bacon (turkey bacon is fine!)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2-2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or tarragon, or 1 Tablespoon fresh (or to taste)
  • Few tablespoons milk for thinning dressing
Dice bacon and cook until crisp. Drain well.

Cover diced potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook! (The goal is NOT mashed potato salad!) Drain and let cool.

In a food processor or small bowl, combined mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, pepper and herbs. Blend until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and a few tablespoons milk and blend so that you have a smooth dressing that can be poured easily - sort of the consistency of a thin milkshake.

In a large mixing bowl, gently toss cooked potatoes, celery, onion and diced hard cooked eggs until combined evenly. Pour dressing over, and combine gently until coated.

Cover and chill for two hours; taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Notice there is no salt in the dressing -- potatoes absorb salt during cooking, and since both Dijon mustard and Parmesan cheese are fairly salty tasting, so I didn't add any to the recipe. Plus there's the bacon -- toss it into the salad just before serving and enjoy!

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