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Although I’m not a big fan of summer, there is one thing I look forward to when the warmer months roll around: A backyard barbecue with veggie burgers, salads and a frozen margarita (or two).
I also like to try a new recipe for every barbecue I attend, so even though my husband and I stayed home for the Fourth of July last year, I made sure to still try out a new recipe for our own little backyard party.
The chosen recipe? Julia Child’s American-Style Potato Salad, which comes from the Julia Child-Jacques Pépin cookbook, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.”
If you know anything about Child and her cooking, I know what you’re thinking: She’s known for French cooking and you made her American potato salad?
Indeed, I did, and you will want to as well once you take a look at the ingredients: hard-boiled eggs, celery, chives, pickles and bacon.
It’s not just the mix-ins that intrigued me, however. The recipe also calls for adding some of the potato water (or chicken broth) back into a bowl with the potatoes once they’re done cooking.
Letting the potatoes soak with the water or broth and a bit of apple cider vinegar makes all of the ingredients marinate together better, and produces a seriously creamy potato salad.
Before you dive in and try making it yourself, there are a few things I discovered during my attempt at whipping up this creamy potato salad.
First, along with choosing either the potato water or chicken broth (I chose the water), you can also choose between mayonnaise or a mayo-and-sour cream mixture. I went with just the mayonnaise. So, your salad may taste different depending on which of these choices you make.
Secondly, cooking your potatoes correctly is key. With this recipe, I found that the suggested cooking time for the potatoes simply wasn’t enough. While the recipe calls for cooking the potatoes for 5-6 minutes, I found it took about 10 minutes for them to be cooked to the correct consistency.
Of course, you also don’t want to overcook them or then you’ll end up with mashed potatoes. So, be sure a fork goes all the way through the potatoes before considering them done. If they’re not cooked through enough, your mayonnaise will not stick and you’ll have a dry salad.
Once I made sure my potatoes were cooked through, the rest came together perfectly. While the potatoes were marinating in the water and apple cider vinegar, I chopped up all the extras. After you mix those in, just pop the salad in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.
I am a vegetarian, so I ended up dividing the potato salad in half and putting bacon in one half, while keeping my half of the salad meat-free. My husband tried both kinds of the salad — with and without bacon — and he found that letting the bacon mix with the rest of the salad for an hour did change the flavor quite a bit.
Here’s how the potato salad turned out when I made it:
Even without the bacon, though, this potato salad was completely worth making. Not only did it come together quickly, but adding the salted potato water helped the mayonnaise cling to the potatoes perfectly.
And don’t even get me started on those extras. While I didn’t eat it with bacon, adding celery, onion, chives and pickles made for a delightful combination of flavors.
Do you have a secret to making creamy potato salad? Will you give this recipe a try?