Friday, January 14, 2011

Potato Salad? Versatile? OH YES!

So, I discovered something. Potato salad does NOT have to be that plain old potato, mayo, mustard, with little variation your Great Aunt Ida said was the ONLY way to make potato salad. Guess what, we can make it tons of ways, and it will never taste the same twice. You can feed your family potato salad for a whole two weeks when potatoes were on sale, but not much else was. And they will not eat the same thing twice...unless there's one they REALLY like and beg you to make it again.

First lets talk tater. So, there's this "thing" that you should use a certain type of potatoes for potato salads, or this potato is better for salad and that potato is best for fries. Frankly, taters...are taters. Yes some are more waxy, some are red, some are mealy, some are blue (yes, blue). And yes, some may serve one purpose or other better than another variety. HOWEVER, they all mash, they all fry, and they all boil.

This week, I'll give you my basic tater salad, and few ways to switch it up. Sometime soon, I'll go over other ways to make it different.

Brat's Basic Tater Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes (I really don't care what you use), diced 1/3" to 1/2" dice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 stalks celery (leaves, too), sliced thin
1 to 2 cups baby carrots, sliced
several slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Fill a LARGE pot with cold water, add a goodly amount of salt, and put it on the stove to heat up. Since your taters are already diced, toss them in now. They are diced already, right?

2. Since the taters weren't diced, do that. Then dump the whole schmear (yes, that's the technical term) in the pot at the same time, being careful, because now that water is getting warmish, and you don't want it splashing on you.

3. Cook them thar taters till they are fork tender. That means the fork just slides right in and out. Drain them into a colander. My trick here: put the pot back on the stove over the flame (you have a gas stove, right?) and put the drained potatoes back in. Stir them very carefully for about 20 to 30 seconds. This finished the drying of the taters. You can turn off the stove now.

4. Let the potatoes cool. Or not. Your choice. While the taters are cookin' and coolin', make sure your bacon is cooked, and your celery and carrots are ready.

5. Put your potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add mayo, veggies and bacon and stir gently to mix it all up. Check seasoning and serve.

Ok, we use this as a meal. And that hardly looks like enough protein. I know. Solve this: couple cans of tuna, couple of chicken breasts, 2 ounces of ham per person. Whatever. I've used all of the above AND roast pork, beef, turkey, lamb.

Remember, this is my BASIC potato salad. We could have a whole YEAR on just potato salad, but that you wouldn't want, so we won't, but I'll come back to the basic potato salad in a few weeks.

Another thing: wherever it says "Potato" Salad, one can use PASTA (in MY recipes, anyway) or RICE. So, now you have three recipes for the price of one. As I've said before starch is a filler in my house.

A word on cleaner eating: I'm trying. Really, I am. Substitute homemade mayonnaise made from ingredients you trust (seriously, egg yolks, oil, mustard, lemon juice--OK, I'll get the recipe together, just not right now); use whole wheat pasta (or make your own); use whatever rice works for you (brown rice is yummy, just sayin'). However sometimes your food budget for the week is $20. (And you gotta have coffee, you do NOT want to meet me if I am coffee-less). So, sometimes, you gotta eat the cheap stuff. I'll keep putting up all the options, just so the bases are (mostly) covered.

Another word on potato skins. In potato salad, some potatoes don't necessarily need to be peeled. Those with thin skins, like Yukon Gold and Red Norland have thin skins (and pretty too) and that doesn't interfere with the whole experience. Others, like Russet, have a thick skin which just doesn't work (for me in potato salad). Those, you can (and IMO should) peel BEFORE they take that hot water bath.


  1. Awesome start to a base recipe! Now if I can just convince my husband to eat this. I may try it, then see if he'll taste it. If not, Sasha and I could eat it all week for dinner.

    As for skins, when I have russet (or probably any others, too) I like to haphazardly peel them so I just get some bits of peel. Though I feel like a bit of heel offering my opinion since you're like a queen of the kitchen!

    Also, thanks for changing the text / background color... I hope YOU still like it.

  2. I like it better than the last one, LOL. As for the skins you peel off....well, ONE option is to fry 'em up and sprinkle w/ salt and Ranch Dressing Mix or Lemon Pepper. Just sayin'. Frugal is as frugal does. And I do have that nifty fryer gadget now....