The last Saturday in June is upon us. Did you know, every year, this Saturday is observed as National Picnic Day? This weather has been messing with us all, and although we need the water, doesn’t getting out and having a picnic just sound nice? I hope that you all get to take a break, whether it’s this Saturday or not, and get outside with some of your favorite people and picnic-type eats.
Piggybacking on last week’s article regarding National Soul Food month, I decided to stay in the Southern family, since so many picnic favorites have originated in the South. We are doing a slight update to potato salad this week. Although it’s not a groundbreaking recipe or take on the classic, it’s a solid method with what may be a few new ingredients for some of you. I’m just hoping to add a little more depth of flavor and to keep it a bit lighter, brighter and fresher.
Potato salad is a perfect side to any barbeque this summer and is so easy to personalize and make your own. This recipe is a great base and would be wonderful with the addition of bell peppers or chilies, different herbs or pickles. For all the bacon lovers out there, try rendering down 4 ounces of good quality and thick cut bacon until crisp, and then quickly sauté the shallots in the rendered bacon fat. Crumble and add in the bacon and sautéed shallots to the potato mixture before combining with the sour cream.
The key to perfect potato salad is the texture. Nobody likes a mushy potato. I like to choose more of a waxy potato such as a Yukon Gold, red or new potatoes and even fingerlings. These varieties are less starchy than the classic russet.
By peeling and cooking the potatoes whole, it helps to keep the interior firmer, while only the outside gets starchy. Cooking times vary between style and size of potato, so make sure you test the potatoes by piercing them with a fork every so often. If the fork goes into the center with still a little bit of resistance, the potatoes are done.
You can also leave the skin on, if it’s of the thinner-skinned variety like red or Yukon Gold potatoes. If you decide to do this, the salad may not absorb as much of the moisture from the dressing, so reduce the sour cream by a couple tablespoons. I prefer using sour cream or Greek yogurt as they tend not to feel so heavy as a traditional mayonnaise-based dressing, plus, in my opinion sour cream is just meant to go with potatoes.
Updated Picnic Potato Salad
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
¼ cup kosher salt
4 eggs, hard boiled
About 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons pickle juice
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (Dijon or whole grain)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 small or 1 large shallot minced (red onion may be substituted)
2 stalks of celery, peeled and diced
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon celery seed
Peel and rinse potatoes, leaving whole.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by an inch or two and 3 tablespoons of the kosher salt.
Bring water to a boil over high heat.
Boil the potatoes uncovered for about 20 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted into center of the potato with only a little resistance.
Drain the potatoes and place into a large bowl.
Let cool until they can be handled, about 20-30 minutes.
Cut cooled potatoes into 1½-inch cubes, placing back into bowl.
Sprinkle cut potatoes with 2 teaspoons of the remaining salt, pickle juice, lemon juice and zest, dried dill and black pepper.
Lightly stir mixture together and add in olive oil. Stir and set aside.
Peel, clean and dice hard-boiled eggs, adding to the potato mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mustard, mayonnaise, shallots, celery, parsley, paprika and celery seed, set aside.
When potato mixture is completely cool, add in and combine by lightly folding, just until combined with the sour cream mixture.
Taste, and if necessary, add in last remaining teaspoon of salt and/or additional pepper to taste.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours so that the flavors meld together.
Serve and enjoy! Feeds 4-6 people
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