Hola, friends! Happy National Picnic Day!
This food holiday snuck up on me, so I don’t have anything brand-spankin’ new for you, but here’s a delicious dish from June 2011 that fits the bill. Perfect for picnics and cookouts, and it has BACON (and we all know that bacon makes everything better). Here it is, in all its glory: 101. Potato Salad.
I made this while I was home over Memorial Day weekend in 2011. We had a cookout at my parents’ townhouse and a lot of my family was in attendance. We served the standard summer cookout fare–hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, roasted corn on the cob, fruit salad, pasta salad, and PRETZEL JELL-O (the ultimate in Midwestern warm-weather potluck food. Do they make this anywhere else aside from PA and Ohio?). Well, I didn’t want an entire weekend to go by without my working towards my goal of completing Dinner is Served! So I decided to contribute the potato salad.
I really like potato salad. I mean, what’s not to like? The constants are 3 terribly tasty ingredients: potatoes, onions, and mayonnaise (oh how I love you, mayonnaise!). But I have never attempted to make potato salad–I guess because I’ve never had a reason to. But this was a perfect opportunity.
Potato salad is simple enough, technique-wise and there are no exotic ingredients involved. However, we had 12+ guests so I doubled the recipe for #101. This meant twice as much of everything and it meant twice as much work. Right hand up to God, I don’t think I have ever spent so much time chopping vegetables and potatoes. I swear that I was chopping vegetables for an entire half an episode of Pawn Stars.
One thing that took longer than I expected was the potatoes. I didn’t know (never having made potato salad before) that it is recommended to boil the potatoes whole and peel and dice post-cooking. I would’ve peeled and cut them prior to boiling, as I would with mashed potatoes, but who am I to question Dinner is Served!? Anyway, since the potatoes were whole they took longer to cook and once drained they had to cool a bit before I attempted to skin and slice. So the process required a bit more time.
But once in the biggest bowl in my mum’s kitchen, it was smooth sailing from there. While warm, I sprinkled the cooked potatoes with vinegar, salt and pepper, as instructed. I made the dressing as suggested, except that I added about a 1/2 tablespoon more Dijon and substituted half and half for the cream. In addition, to lighten the dressing, I used Hellmann’s Light mayo in lieu of the original full-on fatty version. Hellmann’s Light is so close to the real thing that I don’t think that there is any reason to use the full-fat version at all. I have never had fat-free mayo, so I can’t give an opinion on that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that fat-free mayo isn’t mayo at all.
I could probably make a meal with just what’s on that plate
Anyway, into the fridge it went, until it was time to serve. In the meantime I hard-boiled some eggs, fried the bacon, and prepared the other potato salad accompaniments. I had to hover over the plate of toppings because my brother, and my Uncle Chas kept trying to sneak bacon bits and hard-boiled eggs. Naughty, naughty!
When it was time to assemble, I tried my best to recreate the illustration on #101. I think I did pretty well, considering that there were tons of people in the kitchen and I didn’t have the opportunity to stage it like my previous photos.
Not bad considering the situation. But you know that I would have had those brown salt and pepper shakers in there if I had been in my apartment.
Now, all my family members who said how good it was could have been lying, so I’ll tell you what I thought about it.
This was pretty damn good. I truly believe that bacon makes everything better and this was further proven by #101. Do I need to tell you what bacon did for the salad? It deepened the flavor of the salad by imparting a bit of smokiness and a lot of bacon deliciousness. And I didn’t know that all the potato salad I’ve ever had was missing chopped parsley. The parsley gave it a freshness that was unexpected but appreciated. I also liked that the eggs weren’t in the salad itself but were added as a garnish. I personally love hard-boiled eggs, but I know that it’s not a hit with everyone. The same with black olives. But the tomatoes, olives, parsley and lettuce, even if not eaten, gave the monochromatic salad a much-needed kick of color.
So I think this dish is a crowd-pleaser. Well, it pleased me. And if I ever have to make potato salad again, this will be the one I make.