American Potato Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Sweet Pickles

I am here to change everything you think you know about potato salad (via the wisdom of the cookbook we call the Geek Cookbook, for it gives you everything you need to know via a scientific breakdown).  Even if you don't use this recipe (which, respectfully, I would say you are fool not to), just follow one instruction, and your potato salad days will have a clear demarcation of Before and After.

When the potatoes are cool enough to cut but still warm, cube them into 1/2-inch chunks and then pour 1/4 cup red wine vinegar over them and season with salt and pepper.  Let the potatoes cool completely.  Then do whatever else you tend to do with your potato salad, be it mayo or capers or celery or cucumber or herbs or bacon.  

Now the next step, if you're willing to take it, is to no longer use pickle relish.  Chop your own pickle, sweet or otherwise.  Now, the title of this recipe nudges you toward the sweet pickle, which I would, respectfully, tell you to ignore.  Use dill pickles instead.  People expect sweet pickle, so the dill pickle is a nice surprise.  Your potato salad should feel familiar, yes, but not so familiar that people do not notice it.  With the vinegar on the warm potatoes and the dill pickle instead of sweet pickle, you will have a side salad that wants to be a main dish.

Finally, the last thing to do to get your potato salad noticed, should that be your desired effect, is to use a variety of potatoes.  I used blue, red, and white potatoes.  Yes, yes, it was the Fourth of July when I served it, but mostly such patriotic undertones were the result of a trip to the farmer's market where a stand was selling lovely net bags of multi-colored potatoes.  Don't peel the potatoes--leave those fibrous skins intact.  It does make for a pretty little salad.

But like I said, if you want to change only one thing about your potato salad, just follow the vinegar step.  All the rest is gravy.  Er, I guess that metaphor doesn't work (that would mean an entirely different sort of potato dish), but you know what I mean...

One Year Ago: Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Two Years Ago: Mussels Linguica
Three Years Ago: Pilaf-Style Rice

American Potato Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Sweet Pickles
Adapted from  The New Best Recipe

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds waxy potatoes (red are fine, but I used a rainbow selection)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar*
salt and ground black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium celery rib, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion or shallots
1/4 cup dill pickles, minced**
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

*    I add 1/8 cup of pickle brine to mine, but I love the pickle taste
**  Okay, the recipe calls for sweet pickles, but I like it better with the dill pickles.  You make your own call.  I trust you.


1.  Cover the potatoes with 1 inch water in a stockpot; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring once or twice to ensure even cooking, until the potatoes are tender, 25-30 minutes (for medium potatoes) or 15-20 minutes (for small potatoes).  (To check tenderness, insert a fork or a knife into the center of the potato; it should feel tender and come out smoothly.)

2.  Drain, and then cool the potatoes slightly (about 5 minutes) so that you can handle them.  Cut the potatoes with a serrated knife into 3/4-inch cubes (the serrated knife helps reduce the tear on the skins).  Rinse the knife occasionally in warm water to remove the starch.

3.  Place the warm potato cubes in a large bowl.  Add the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently.  Cool for about 20-30 minutes.

4.  When the potatoes are cool, toss with the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.


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