By Beth Heeschen
Join us in welcoming Beth to “Off the Merry-Go-Round!” Look for her blogs “From Beth’s Kitchen” on a regular basis–you won’t want to miss her outstanding recipes and stories. Read more about Beth’s fascinating background on our Bloggers page. For her first article, we thought a Memorial Day-inspired Potato Salad recipe would be perfect… enjoy!
In Iowa, potato salad is taken seriously… very seriously. The season begins at Memorial Day Picnics, and doesn’t end until the high school football team has shut off the lights at the last home game. The bowls of yellow, mayonnaise laden potato salads line up at church picnics, family reunions, holiday get-togethers, and tailgate parties. All of them alternately placed between bowls of “not potato salad.” Lined up like aspiring contestants waiting to be crowned, but never being recognized with anything other than a knowing nod, and comment of “this is really very good.” Alternatively, you’ve blown it if your potato salad is met with the inquisitive “interesting, what’s in it?”…Sound the gong! Iowans go to great lengths not to be rude or overly praiseful. You become very adept at reading into subtleties.
It is very important to bring THE best potato salad. It’s a matter of humble-pride, and you want to be the humble crown bearer. Everyone in town knows who makes the best potato salads, as it is discussed after the aforementioned gatherings. In the small Iowa town I grew up in, it was a well-known fact that Vi Roberts, who worked at the courthouse, was the reigning potato salad queen. For years… and years… and years… Finally she decided to take five pound orders and set up a nice little side business for herself. It also expanded into some fabulous meatballs, but that is for another blog… There were many wonderful second place potato salads, that shifted around from person to person, and year to year. I like to think, and believe, my Mom’s was one of these.
In true Iowa fashion, simple is best. Potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise are the standard. Other secret ingredients can be added to enhance these primary ingredients, and are what makes each potato salad unique. Add to your own peril, anything weird like radishes would be deeply frowned upon… and NEVER EVER use light mayonnaise! ENJOY!
MOM’S BEST POTATO SALAD:
2 ½ lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and unpeeled
½ C Finely chopped Vidalia Onion
4 Hardboiled eggs, 3 finely chopped, 1 sliced
2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
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1 T White vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Celery Seed
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3/4 C Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/4 C Miracle Whip
1 1/2 T White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
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Salt and Pepper
Use potatoes that are similar in size, or put the larger ones on the bottom of a pot. Cover potatoes with water and boil until a fork easily pierces. Remove using a slotted spoon to a strainer (avoid dumping, as it might damage the potatoes). If using potatoes of different size, the small ones will be done before the larger. Cool completely.
Mix the white vinegar, Dijon, salt and celery seed in a small bowl.
When potatoes have cooled, scrap off skin with a paring knife, and cube into desired size (I find that ½” works best). Place in bowl, and add vinegar mixture. Stir until completely coated. Add onion, eggs, and celery.
Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and add to potato mixture. Fold gently until completely coated. Salt ad pepper to taste.
Garnish with sliced egg and paprika.
Happy “unofficial” summertime, this Memorial Day weekend!
What are your traditional Memorial Day picnic dishes?