Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From the Garden: Classic Potato Salad

Over the six years we have lived in our house, I have tried my hand at gardening here and there.  My first attempts at vegetable gardening were rough, but I am getting better.  I always have high hopes for my garden, but my dreams usually prove to be bigger and more difficult to achieve than originally imagined.  I think this year may be one of the best yet.  One of the things I am trying different this year (since building new raised beds) is planting my potatoes in containers to save space in the garden.  So far, it has worked out well.  I dug the potatoes from one container about a week ago to get new pototoes, and I am letting the remaining container and potato tower go until the plants die back and the potatoes are fully developed. 

The pictures shown are of my two containers and the potato tower earlier in the growing season.  The potato tower is wire secured in a cylindrical shape and placed in a plastic plant dish.  I got the idea for this from this site.  It was filled with soil and seed potatoes, placing the potatoes around edge of the cylinder with their eyes facing out.  I placed a round of potatoes every foot or so up the tower until it was completely filled.  I have no idea how this will work, but it has been an interesting experiment anyway. 

I have had the new potatoes sitting in my kitchen for a week or so, and tonight I decided to do something with them.  I decided that my mother-in-law's potato salad would be a really good option.  It is a simple potato salad with eggs and sweet pickles and its ingredients do not overpower the taste of the potatoes in any way.  I used about a pound of potatoes to make around four servings.  The additions were free range eggs that had been hard boiled*,  Duke's mayonaise (the true Southern mayonaise and the only kind you should use, in my opinion), a little finely chopped sweet onion, and some chopped sweet pickles.**  It was a perfectly quick and tasty use for my potatoes, and I can't wait to dig more!

*To hard boil the perfect egg, place the egg in a saucepan and fill it with cool water to cover by at least one inch.  Bring the water to a boil.  Turn the heat off, cover the pan, and let it sit for 12 minutes to continue cooking the egg.  This method produces the perfect hard boiled egg with a cooked but not at all dry yolk and absolutely no horrible grey ring around the yolk. 

**You can use pickle relish or bread and butter pickles.  I took a jar of dill pickles canned over the summer, drained the liquid from the jar, and added 1/2 cup of sugar.  I turned the jar over and shook it every day or so for about three days until the sugar had drawn the excess liquid from the pickles and made a sweet syrup.  I used these in the place of relish.  These sweet and sour pickles are also excellent with cheese and crackers or anywhere sweet pickles would generally wander, and I always have jar in the fridge for snacking. 

Classic Potato Salad-  serves 4

This potato salad is based on one my mother-in-law makes.  She told me what she put in it, but like many good cooks, she just tastes and adjusts as she goes.  I tried to measure as I went in order to put an accurate list of amounts down into recipe form.  If you make it, do a taste test and add more or less of each ingredient as you see fit.  These amounts are in no way the end-all be-all.  They are simply what tasted good to me. 

1 pound small white new potatoes with skin on (or peeled russets)
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles plus a small drizzle of pickle juice
     (see my note above for the pickles I used)
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonaise (preferably Duke's brand)
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp chopped parsley or dill, optional

Halve or cube the potatoes.  Place the potatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan and cover with cool water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Mash the potatoes with the skin on making sure to leave a few chunks here and there.

Add the chopped egg, pickles, onion, mayo, and remaining salt and pepper to the pototoes in the bowl.  Stir to combine thoroughly.  Taste and adjust the ingredients to fit your preference by adding more pickles or mayonaise as needed.  Chill the potato salad in the refrigerator until cold.  Sprinkle with parsley or dill, if desired.  Serve.

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