If there's a recipe I'm known for, it's my potato salad. I've made it the same way for years and years. But it's really not my recipe. I learned how to make it from Lilly Blacker. The Blackers were our next-door neighbors while I was growing up. I spent my summers in their swimming pool. We always celebrated the 4th of July with the Blackers and Lilly always made the potato salad. We barbecued, swam and then all sat out on the front curb to watch the fireworks. Saying, "OOOOHHHH!" and "AAAAAHHHHH!" frequently during the fireworks was required. "Oohs" and "Aaahs" were also frequently emitted while eating Lilly's potato salad.
One year, when I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to learn how to make her salad. So I went over to her house on the morning of the 4th and watched Lilly and helped her make it, writing down everything she did. The only change I've made is I use dill rather than sweet pickles(it's a matter of taste. My husband prefers the dill.) The amounts are not measured, so it's a little difficult to write it down as a recipe, but I'll explain the technique.
- Scrub potatoes and boil them in their jackets in a large pan. (6 large potatoes makes about 2 quarts of salad) Boil until potatoes are firm/tender (Overcooking results in mushy salad, but they can't be too firm, either.Just keep checking them with a fork.)
- Remove potatoes from the water and let cool until just cool enough to handle. Peel skins. This is the first secret to delicious potato salad. Peel and dice while the potatoes are still warm.
- Put the diced potatoes in a large bowl and salt. This is the 2nd secret. Salt the potatoes while they are warm. The potatoes form kind of a starchy skin if you do this while they're warm. This is what makes yummy salad.
- The third secret is use as many hard-boiled eggs as potatoes. If you're using 6 potatoes, then boil 6 eggs.
- Boil the eggs while you're boiling the potatoes. Peel and dice them and put them in with the potatoes.
- Pickles. (I like to use Nally's dill pickles because there's little chunks of garlic that are good.) Dice several pickles and throw in.
- Onion. Finely dice about 1/2 onion (more or less to taste). If you prefer, you can use dried onion and put it in the sauce mixture. I think that's what Lilly did.
- Mix the potatoes, eggs, pickles and onion together.
- Sauce: Mayonaise, yellow mustard, pickle juice, salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar. This is the part that's hard to tell. I do it by how it looks. I put a lot of mayonaise in a bowl (For 6 potatoes, probably about 1 1/2 cups.) Then I add mustard and pickle juice until it's very thin and soupy. Then add salt, sugar and pepper. Mix. The mixture should be pale yellow and thin. DO NOT skimp. The secret to good salad is LOTS of moisture. The potatoes absorb it in the fridge.
- Pour the sauce over the potatoes and mix well. Again, it should be VERY moist. If it's not, make more of the mixture. You almost can't get too much.
- Blend well and put in the fridge for several hours. Taste and adjust seasonings after it's been in fridge for awhile.