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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vicki’s Potato Salad

This is a delicious potato salad made with russet potatoes or another variety and is perfect for summer outings, camping, the barbecue, or potlucks. It is one of my family's favorites. You can make this one or two days ahead. It is better the second day.

Boil with skin on - Test with fork for doneness
The main star is the potato so getting good ones is the start of a great salad. When selecting potatoes, use ones that are hard, firm, smooth and clean. Avoid those with wrinkled or wilted skins, soft dark areas, discoloration, cut or bruised surfaces, signs of greening or sprouting. Freshly dug new potatoes should be well washed and lightly scrubbed with a bristle brush. Leave the skins on when boiling for less water absorbtion.

The decision to peel the skins is a matter of personal preference. Presentation is improved if they are peeled. Red or new potatoes are often used in salads to avoid peeling as these potatoes have a thinner skin. Russet potatoes are the ideal potato salad maker as they are dense and suck up flavor and liquid substantially better than other potatoes. Because of this tendency, it is important not to over boil these in the least amount, strain them very well in a very large colander. The residual heat will help drive off moisture in the form of steam so do not rinse. If you buy small potatoes, you can easily cook them with their skins on; only peeling them when they are nice and cool. You can buy small potatoes and bake them but just make sure you are testing for doness frequently enough that the potato is not over done. Baking or microwave requires that the potatoes be pierced with a fork. Trying to bake large potatoes is too difficult as the out­side tends to be over cooked while the inside is still excessively hard.

If you have skins on, you can quench the potatoes with water to prevent the potatoes from continuing to cook, which they will do from their own residual heat. Any potatoes not quite done can go into the microwave for a minute at a time, until they are done. A potato is done when it can be just pierced easily with a fork. If the fork runs in with no resistance, a potato is over-done. To make a perfect potato salad the potatoes need to still have a bite to them – no one will like potato mush. If peeling potatoes and boiling them, cut them into large but equal size pieces so they cook at the same rate and will be done at the same time. Larger pieces tend to absorb less water.

8 Large or 16 small Russet potatoes or another variety
3 Ribs of chopped celery
Good Season’s Zesty Italian Salad Dressing, 6-Ounce Packet
Olive oil (per directions on Salad Dressing packet)
Fine red wine vinegar (per directions on Salad Dressing packet)
Water (per directions on Salad Dressing packet)
1 Chopped red onion
6 Scallions, chopped
8 Hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
4 Chopped dill pickles
4 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
Best Foods (Hellmann’s) mayonnaise as required, see instructions
3~4 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon dill
1 Small can chopped black olives (optional)
Ground black pepper

Prepare the Good Season’s Zesty Italian Salad Dressing per directions.
Cook unpeeled potatoes until pierced easily with a fork. When cool, peel them and cut them into bite sized pieces with a small pairing knife. Put potatoes in a large non–reactive bowl. Pour in the salad dressing mix, toss and refrigerate for an hour or 24 hours.
Dressed for a marinate in the refrigerator

Remove from refrigerator and combine all ingredients with the marinated potatoes adding enough mayonnaise to make sure the salad is well lubricated, adding salt and a generous amount of black pepper to taste and stir gently to combine.

Refrigerate several hours before serving.