Making potato salad should be a pretty simple process, but to make your best batch yet, keep these rules in mind.
Rule #1: Choose the right potato
Your spud of choice all depends on how your like your potato salad. Some folks prefer it super-creamy, but may not want to add gobs of mayo. If that’s your style, choose russet (baking) potatoes. They’ll break down a bit when boiled, and their starch will add to the overall texture of the finished dish. They also tend to absorb dressing a bit more easily.
If you prefer your salad with more contrasting textures — firmer potatoes with a creamy dressing — choose moderately waxy potatoes like Yukon golds or red potatoes, which hold their shape and don’t break down as quickly.
Rule #2: Cut your potato pieces evenly
Keeping chunks roughly the same size means you won’t have some undercooked or overcooked pieces.
Rule #3: Don’t overcook your spuds
Unless you’re a fan of mashed potatoes as salad, keep an eye on that pot. Heat the water and potatoes to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Drain the water from the pot when your potato pieces are just tender – the residual heat will keep them cooking a little bit longer.
Rule #4: But don’t undercook either
Undercooked potatoes are worse than overcooked my opinion. You want the crunch to come from celery or pickles you mix in, not the potatoes. If you start by plopping your spuds in boiling water instead of heating them up in cold water, you run the risk of having the outsides cooked before the insides are done all the way through.
Rule #5. Season, season, season
Most salads are served cold. But when foods come straight out of the fridge, their flavors are muted. That means you should cook the potatoes in well-salted water and make sure that your dressing is boldly flavored, or your dish will be bland.
Once you’ve mastered the potato prep, it’s time to experiment. Here’s a good, basic recipe to start with. When you’re ready to branch out and try other combos, experiment with these delicious equations:
1. Seasoned rice vinegar + toasted sesame oil + green onion + red pepper + jalapeño
2. Bacon + mayo + spicy brown mustard + dill pickles + garlic + celery + green onions
3. Sour cream + white wine vinegar + fresh dill + pickles + shallots + smoked salmon
4. Cider vinegar + pickled jalapeños + cilantro + corn + green onions
5. Horseradish + mayo + bacon + chives + radish slices