There are many variations on potato salad. Some keep it very simple and just buy a quart or two at the local deli. I like to make my own so I know all the ingredients and can avoid spices that don’t agree with me. For instance, garlic causes food sensitivity issues so I try to avoid it whenever possible. Much commercially made potato salad contains garlic. Here is my favorite recipe that I have adapted over the years. I served this to some guests yesterday and they really liked it.
There are a few secrets involved in making the most tasty potato salad. One is to cook the potatoes in their skins. This imparts a particular full flavor. Cook the potatoes until they are soft, but not mushy. There should be some firmness left and the chunks should easily hold their shape. Another secret is the French dressing marinade.
Favorite Potato Salad
Begin preparations at least 4-5 hours before serving.
Hard boil 4 large eggs, chill.
7 to 9 small to medium potatoes, about 2.5 to 3 lbs, skin on, scrubbed and cut into halves or thirds so the chunks are roughly the same size, I use Russets but any variety will be fine
Gently boil the potatoes in a 2 qt saucepan until they are still somewhat firm, just softened through, and the skin barely begins to split. The chunks should retain their shapes and not be breaking up.
While the potatoes are cooking make the French dressing marinade. I make my own rather than using store bought dressing to avoid weird ingredients like xanthan gum or polysorbate, whatever those are.
In a pint sized container with a lid, such as a canning jar, combine:
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
Put the lid on the jar and shake well until completely combined. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use and shake again before use. Half the dressing is used for this recipe, I store the rest in the fridge for the next batch of potato salad.
When the potatoes are ready, quickly drain them in the pot, then refill the pot with warm water to rinse and drain again. The potatoes will be quite warm to handle so use care. They must remain fairly warm for the next step so do not allow them to cool. Use a knife to slit and peel off the skin. It will mostly roll off in complete ribbons. If using new potatoes and everyone likes skins, the potatoes do not have to be peeled.
Cut the potatoes into large bite-sized pieces about 3/4″ to 1″ square. Place in 2.5 quart bowl. Drizzle the warm potatoes with half the French dressing. Toss with a spoon to fully coat the pieces and so no dressing is left sitting in the bowl. Cover and cool in the fridge for at least one and one-half hours.
To assemble the salad: remove potatoes from fridge, toss again to be sure dressing is well distributed. Add:
1/2 to 1 cup real mayonnaise. You can make your own mayonnaise, I just buy a high quality, limited ingredient variety
finely diced dill pickles or green salad olives, about 1/2 cup
marjoram, basil, Bell’s seasoning, celery salt, pepper, onion powder to taste. Some like fresh onion and this is a nice addition if your stomach can tolerate it, mine cannot
6 or 8 slices cooked, cooled, smoked bacon broken into small pieces
Gently stir the additions into the potatoes until they are well combined. Vigorous stirring will break up the potatoes so use care.
Cut the hard boiled eggs into large chunks, gently fold into the salad with any additional mayonnaise required to form a creamy consistency so the salad is not too dry.
Cover and chill at least another hour before serving to allow the flavors to combine well.
Sometimes I add chopped ham rather than bacon, chopped fresh tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, dill and/or celery. Additions or substitutions are easy with potato salad, it is a very adaptable dish.
Yield about 2 quarts