Perfect Potato Salad

September 25, 2008


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This potato salad is another dream of Ina' s. I first made it a few weeks ago for a bbq and then again last weekend for what I think will have been my last summer feast. In anticipation of feeding a large group, I made enough potato salad to sate a starving army. I must have made almost 20 pounds of the stuff—only ended up hosting ten people. But the remains were well loved, especially by my friend John, who really was heroic in his Spartan spud-eating. The good news: potato salad keeps (in the refrigerator) for more than a few days, and I hope that my family continues to indulge in it as a starchy reminder of how much I love them. Who am I kidding? I' ll probably find it at Christmas when I revisit… stuffed somewhere into the back of the fridge. Despite my poor planning, Ina is a kitchen magician, especially where mayonnaise and buttermilk are concerned. I do find one thing baffling: all of her recipes call for “good mayonnaise.”What does that mean? I didn' t buy mine from the 99-cent store, but it' s not fancy stuff either. Frankly, I found Hellman' s perfectly apt. If you' re baffled by this instruction, you' re in good company, and if you don' t decide to emulsify your own mayo from scratch, your recipe will turn out just fine. Better than just fine: sweet, tart, smooth and crunchy all at once—just the way a potato salad should be.

Ina Garten’s New Potato Salad Recipe:

3 pounds small red potatoes, kosher salt, 1 c good mayo, 1/4 c buttermilk, 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp whole grain mustard, 1/2 c chopped, fresh dill, freshly ground pepper, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 c chopped red onion.

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.) Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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