By Leigha Burnham
Summer is heating up here in Georgia and cool salads are becoming even more appealing to the palette. When we begin to plan our Sunday picnics, pool-side lunches, or backyard barbeque, it is inevitable that potato salad ends up on the menu. It is truly a Southern classic. Keeping in mind that every Southern woman has her mother's potato salad recipe, passed down from her mother and the mother before her, it is no wonder that one can find variations on the Southern potato salad. But one or two things always hold true if the salad is truly Southern: (1) it is always served cold, (2) there is almost always more mustard than mayonnaise in the salad, and (3) there are no skins in the salad.
I want to expound for just a moment on these three distinctions. Many of us are familiar with German potato salad, which is typically served warm. Here in Georgia where summer temperatures are easily in the high 90s, a warm potato salad just doesn't sound very good! We need our salads cool and crisp. Served fresh from the cold "icebox" is best. We also prefer a little...or maybe even a lot...of yellow mustard. The ratio of mayo to mustard will vary on the family recipe used, but I assure you that my household really prefers more mustard. And if you were to worry that all that mustard would make the salad too tangy, no worries. We add sweet pickle relish to balance it out. It is necessary to mention that Southern potato salad in its truest form does NOT have skins in it. Now, I can eat a potato salad that has skins and enjoy it just fine, but it doesn't rival the no-skin version. There is simply is no comparison.
Every reader of the ABG blog needs to feel pretty special at this point because the recipe I am about to share is my Granmucher's recipe. (And no, it isn't grandmother; I called her gran-much-er.) I have many a summer memory of my Granmucher, standing over her farmhouse sink, singing a Vestal Goodman tune, all while stirring in some sweet vidalia to her mustard-laden potato salad. It is still the best potato salad recipe I've ever tasted and I'm not quite sure that my preparation tastes as wonderful as hers did. It must have been the secret ingredient of grandmotherly love that made the difference. Enjoy, y'all!
Granmucher's Southern Potato Salad
6-8 red potatoes, peeled & cubed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup (more or less) of yellow mustard
1/4 cup chopped vidalia onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 hard boiled egg, finely diced
2 Tbsp. sweet pickle cubes (& a little juice thrown in)
salt and pepper to taste
sliced green bell pepper and paprika for garnish
Making sure your potatoes are washed, peeled, and cubed, bring them to a rapid boil and cook until very tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Mix mayo, yellow mustard, salt and pepper until stirred into a creamy dressing. Add onion, celery, and sweet pickles (plus some of the juice) to the dressing mixture and finally add in the potato. When stirring together, you want to mash/cream some of the potatoes, while leaving some of them in small chunks...this adds a wonderful creamy-ness to the salad, but keeps the integrity of some of the potatoes intact. Finally, add one finely chopped boiled egg to the salad and mix well. Move salad into a pretty serving dish, sprinkle with paprika for color, and then add the sliced bell pepper for garnish. Chill for at least one hour before serving!
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire