When it comes to summer barbecues and family picnics, it's hard to beat a chilled potato salad made with your own secret ingredients. Like any recipe however, there's always some room for improvement whether it's tweaking some of the ingredients or assembling the salad in a different way. Here are some tips and tricks I use to make a potato salad that always has guests asking for seconds.
Cube the potatoes before cooking. Most potato salad recipes call for boiling the potatoes whole or halved and then cubing them after they've chilled for several hours. I cube the potatoes before boiling them which speeds up both cooking and prep time. Cubed potatoes should be cooked until tender though still firm. After cooking, drain off the boiling water and let potatoes cool to room temperature in a colander before continuing on with the recipe.
Don't overcook the eggs. Don't like the rubbery texture of hard boiled eggs? The proper way to boil eggs for potato salad is to place them in a single layer in a saucepan, cover them with water, put on the lid, and then bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, remove the saucepan and set it aside for about 15 minutes. After the eggs are cooked, drain off the water and cover the eggs with ice water. This cools down the eggs so that are easy to handle and prevents the yolks from developing that ugly greenish tinge.
Add something crunchy. Mushy potato salad is boring. Potato salad with crunchy veggies mixed in adds a little extra zing. I usually add whatever is in season -- some of my favorite stir in ideas include one (or more) of the following: several sliced radishes, one chopped bell pepper, 2 stalks of chopped celery, or 4 sliced green onions including stalks.
Separate the cooked yolks from the white. Bits of egg yolk in a potato salad is 'off-putting' which is why I separate the cooked eggs before adding them to the mix. To separate the yolks from the whites, cut the boiled eggs in half lengthwise and pry out the yolks using a spoon. Mince the whites and add them to the potatoes. Smash the cooked egg yolks with a fork and mix them into the dressing before tossing everything together.
Use quality potatoes. While last winter's #2 Russets are fine for mashing potatoes, they aren't the best potato to use in a salad. I select only the best Russets, Reds, or Yukon Golds for making my salad and leave the second rate potatoes for recipes where quality doesn't matter.
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