So, you’re thinking ya wanna barbecue some ribs, maybe some burgers, or some chicken. You’re walking through the grocery willy-nilly, mindlessly putting Famous Dave’s Devil’s Spit BBQ sauce in your squeaky little cart (because you know What’s Good). You think, innocently enough, “What should we have with these delicious ribs?” You find yourself in the deli holding what from this moment on shall be referred to as The Abomination: grocery store potato salad.
Don’t do it. Put it down and walk away. That stuff ain’t potato salad. It’s Evil and Must Be Destroyed.
This is potato salad:
Real homemade potato salad is love: It’s simple and humble, but it takes effort and time and a commitment to using the best you have to make something that will fill up and comfort the people you love. There are no short cuts. Good potato salad is hard work, and that’s why so many people settle for the easy plastic encased monstrosity of a short cut that is grocery store deli potato salad. That potato salad sucks-it’s dry and unsatisfying, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like some kind of sleazy one-night stand. Real love, and real potato salad are worth everything you put into it. So, try. Even if you’re scared. You can make potato salad.
To make homemade potato salad, gather the following:
- 8-10 potatoes of similar size, scrubbed clean and boiled in their skins until just fork-tender, about fifteen minutes. (Russetts are my preference: I like their density. Freshness is key.)
- 6-8 large eggs, boiled
- 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
- 4-6 stems very fresh fragrant celery, chopped. Be extremely picky about your celery. It’s like a man: don’t settle for anything approaching limpy or wimpy or weak.
- 8-10 whole dill pickles, chopped (all veggie amounts are approximate: just look in the bowl. You’l know when you’ve got enough. Potato salad is personal, like love. Everyone’s is a little different.) Also, keep that pickle juice handy.
- Hellman’s Mayonnaise (Only Hellman’s. Period. And if you even are thinking about substituting Miracle Whip, just go to the deli, buy The Abomination, and be done with it.)
- Emeril’s Kicked-Up Spicy Brown Mustard with Horseradish
- Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing.
- Salt and Pepper
While your potatoes and eggs are boiling, chop the veggies and put them in the biggest bowl you’ve got. When the potatoes are done, drain them and let ‘em sit awhile and simmer down. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel the skin and chop into one-inch cubes. Add potatoes to the veggies. Cool, drain, peel, and chop your eggs. Add them to the mix. Mix everything in the bowl together to see if you need to add any more veggies. (I always add another pickle…that’s just how I roll.) Add some salt and pepper. Once you’re satisfied with the veggie to potato ratio, you can assemble the dressing.
In a smaller bowl, combine two cups of mayo, three quarters of a cup of ranch dressing, and about a third cup of mustard. Stir with a rubber spatula, slowly adding pickle juice until the dressing is the consistency of pancake batter. Pour over potato salad, and mix well. You may need to make another batch of dressing-I usually do, but I always start with that first batch. Use your eyes, and taste it: you’ll know when it’s right.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least four hours. This is called Delayed Gratification, or Torture. But, real love is worth the wait, trust me.