What would a backyard barbecue be without potato salad? Sandwiched between the baked beans and fruit salad, potato salad is a summer side that is always primed to please. But where did potato salad come from, what kind should you make, and what type of potatoes do you use? Here is a basic run down regarding the ins and outs of potato salad.
History of Potato Salad
The first potato salad on record was made by Idaho potato farmer Ezra Bodine in 1899. As the story goes, Mr. Bodine was a bit of a drinker, and just needed to throw together something quick and easy to bring to the grand opening of the Twin Falls Bar and Grill so he could participate in the free beer pot-luck. Those present indicated his potato salad was less than impressive with ingredients of boiled potatoes, onions and mayonnaise, but it evidently sparked ideas and got the potato rolling!
Best Potato for Potato Salad
Due to their texture and ability to hold up well when tossed with other ingredients, the best potatoes for potato salad are said to be Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold and red potatoes. Russet Potatoes are not a good choice since they are drier and fall apart easily. Leaving the skin on or taking it off is a matter of personal preference. I like to use red potatoes, skin on, which adds a bit of color.
After you boil your potatoes for your salad, it is best to let them sit in the colander for a while before you add dressing. You will see the steam escaping them as they rest, and that steam extra moisture you don’t need. Allowing the moisture for the boiling process to evaporate a bit primes you potatoes to absorb the flavorful dressing on the way.
Types of Potato Salad
The two main types of potato salad are creamy and vinegar base, but there are thousands of recipe variation for each. Vinegar based potato salads are often known as German Potato Salad and served warm with a dressing of cider vinegar, oil and sugar. Though not as popular in the summer months, German Potato Salad is a nice accompaniment to grilled German style Bratwursts and Mettwurts.
Creamy potato salad is mayonnaise based and chilled, and really allows endless creativity. You can add different vegetables and herbs for crunch or flavor, and other dressings to give it a kick as well. Some people like to add mustard, crumbled bacon, or hard boiled eggs. My personal favorite recipe that always garners praise includes sour cream, green and red onion, and dill weed.
So if you are looking for a dish to bring to a gathering, consider potato salad. It is easy to make, there are countless recipes, or you can strike out on your own and a make up a new one!