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Not Yo Mama’s Potato Salad

June 15, 2009

My mother.  My wonderful, wonderful mother.  She’s famous for a lot of things.  Truly.  I won’t go bragging about her on my blog, just take my word for it.  You’ll see her in some book down the line.  And I’m not just referring to her high school yearbook, either.

One thing she is NOT famous for, however, is her cooking.  She’s a good cook.  She gets by just fine.  She can make homemade noodles with turkey fat from scratch and a darn good French Dip sandwich.  But nothing she’d be famous for, really.

The exception is her potato salad.  My mama can crank out some spuds. I asked her to email me the recipe after I caught the Omnivore gorging himself on leftover potato salad at 11pm one night.

I tried to make this recipe.  I tried really hard.  And I failed really badly.  I’m beginning to wonder if this is my mother’s subtle way of keeping the recipe a secret.  Here’s how the recipe came to me:

use only red potatoes.  if they are big, cut them in half.  boil them
with their skins on until soft.  halfway through the process throw in
two or three eggs in the water.
How many potatoes?  Number of eggs are specified, but no idea about the taters.

when finished, strip the skins off,
put the potatoes in a bowl in big chunks.  don’t cut them up now, but
do slice up the eggs.
How do the potatoes get into “big chunks” without cutting them up?

cut up maybe three or four big stalks of
celery, and a small onion in chunks.
Does the kind of onion matter here?  I’ve seen about 8 varieties of onions at the store…

in another bowl put together a mixture of mostly mayonnaise, some
mustard, maybe two tablespoons, some horseradish or horseradish sauce,
and some ranch dressing, maybe 1/4 cup.

How much mayo?  Again, two tablespoons are specific for the mustard contribution,
but the mayo quantity remains vague.  How much horseradish?
There’s got to be a difference between straight horseradish and the condiment.
Which one do you use!?

throw it over the other stuff
and take a big spoon and stir it all together.  this will cut up the
potatoes too.  if you need more of the mixture to cover the potatoes,
make some.  or just throw in another spoon of mayonnaise.

How do I know if I need more dressing to cover?  It is said that making more is acceptable,
but what is the baseline, here?

its really easy.  Are you mocking me, mom?  This is obviously confusing! salt and pepper.

i think the biggest thing about this recipe is not to skin the
potatoes before boiling.  it makes it all different.

And she throws in a red-herring at the end.  As if the skins are the secret…
what about all those other missing quantities!?  Can’t fool me, mama.

So.  I was forced to make my own potato salad.  And the Omnivore LOVED it.  The guttural sound he made when he first took a bite made me reach for the phone to call 9-1-1, but alas, it was a false alarm: no heart attack here, apparently this is how the ‘Vore expresses his satisfaction.  So manly.

When he finally gathered his where-with-all and could speak in sentences, he said, “Wow.  This is fantastic.  It’s not yo mama’s potato salad, but it is fabulous.”


Honey Dijon Potato Salad (4 servings, adapted from here)

1  pound  small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2  teaspoons  freshly ground black pepper
pinch kosher salt
1/2 of sweet onion, diced
1  garlic cloves, minced
1  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
1  tablespoons sour cream
2 tsp honey
2 tsp tablespoons  sherry vinegar
poppy seeds

Cook potatoes how you see fit.  Roasting imparts a great flavor.  Cut into 1″ cubes and roast at 400* until soft.  Steaming and boiling works, too.  Just make sure you boil them whole and then dice.  Cool potatoes.  Combine sour cream, mustard, honey, vinegar, garlic, onions, and salt and pepper.  Whisk to make a dressing.  Pour over potatoes.  Add poppy seeds.  Serve cool.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2009 1:52 pm

    looks good! that’s exactly how my parents explain a recipe to me too! …you know, some of this and some of that… it’s that simple 🙂

  2. Melissa permalink
    June 15, 2009 5:50 pm

    This is exactly how my dad cooks and it drives me crazy! He never makes the something the same way more than once, but it always turns out great.
    I have never seen poppy seeds in potato salad before, but it looks delicious!

  3. lee malerich permalink
    June 15, 2009 6:18 pm

    i am so proud. i am simply grinning ear to ear! the most impt part, as you said, is the potato skin part. boil them with. for the other stuff, use your creativity! creativity is what counts and that is what your recipe reflects.

    blogs are so much more that whatever their subject matter is supposed to be. it is so fine to experience this, thankyou branny!

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