With summertime BBQ season upon us, what is the best side dish to bring to the party? Potato salad, of course. There are so many variations of potato salad out there, but I prefer the classic American, creamy, potato salad. My grandmother made this recipe, then my mother made this recipe, so naturally, I make this recipe, too. I do not have children to take over the recipe, so I hope someone else finds it and makes it a tradition in their family, too.
In my opinion, the star of the show is the dressing. The dressing is where the flavor is packed. Adding different toppings, such as bacon crumbles or hard-boiled eggs are delightful, too. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about what type of potato to use in your salad. Pick the wrong potato and they could end up getting smooshed during mixing when you add your dressing. Then you’re left with mashed potatoes with mayonnaise.
TUBER OR NOT TUBER?
Yes. A potato is a tuber, specifically a stem tuber. A stem tuber is basically an enlarged structure of the plant where it stores its nutrients it will need for winter and for regrowth. In order to pick out the right kind for your dish, you’ll need to know a few things. Essentially, there are three categories of potatoes based on their texture. Starchy, All-Purpose, and Waxy. Potato salads need potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking. So, understanding what happens during the cooking process will help when making your selection.
Starchy potatoes, such as Russets are good for baking, mashing or French fries. The highly dense starch cells swell and separate from one another when cooked which give these potato items a fluffy texture.
Waxy potatoes, such as Red Bliss, have the least starch, so there is less cell separation and are best for boiling, stews, and salads. There is less breakdown, so these potatoes will hold their shape very well.
All-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, have a moderate amount of starch and are ideal for au gratins, roasting or steaming. As the name implies, they can also be used for any purpose, but just note that your results may vary slightly.
The creamy, classic American potato salad.
- 4 pounds Red Bliss potatoes
- 2 tbsp salt for potato water
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup Splenda or sugar
- salt and pepper to taste for dressing
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups mayonaisse
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1/4 cup diced celery
Scrub potato skins then cut into bite-size cubes.
Place in a large pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tbsp of salt to the water. Cover the pot with a lid.
Over high heat, bring to a boil. Remove lid, lower temperature to medium/high heat and continue a slow boil for 8-12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
Drain the liquid from the potatoes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. (Spreading them out over a cookie sheet will speed up the cooling process.)
In a large bowl, add the vinegar, Splenda, salt, pepper, milk, and sour cream.
Add the mayonaisse, a little at a time until the dressing reaches the desired thickness.
Add the celery and onions.
Once the potatoes have cooled completely, add them to the dressing and lightly toss the dressing to coat the potatoes.
I use Splenda instead of sugar because I have diabetics in my family and try not to use sugar where it doesn't make a difference to the outcome of the dish. It also dissolves a lot quicker than sugar. But, sugar absolutely works too.
What is your favorite summertime side dish? Let me know in the comments below.