Monday, July 2, 2012

One Great . . . French potato salad

My grandmother's potato salad recipe is passed around with reverence in my family. It's very traditional, jazzed up with pickle juice and pimento, lots of mayonnaise and a major hit of Lawry's seasoned salt.

Too bad I have a son who hates mayonnaise. I didn't know this was even possible, so I blame an errant gene from his father's side. Still, having a mayo-challenged child forced me to explore the world of non-mayo potato salads. I ended up as a fan of the French potato salad.

I have no idea if it is actually French, but I know the combination of potato, herb and vinaigrette is a lot easier than traditional American potato salad. It also can handle all kinds of potatoes, from those red-skin potatoes that come in a mesh sack to the wonderful small Bintje potatoes I get at the farmers market in the summer. Even plain ol' Yukon Golds work. Just make sure you have lots of fresh herbs, and always dress the cooked potato slices while they're hot.

French-Style Potato Salad

2 pounds potatoes, preferably small (red-skin, Bintjes, fingerlings or Yukons)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (flat-leaf parsley, basil, thyme leaves, chervil -- a mix of whatever you have)
4 to 6 green onions, diced white bulbs and sliced green tops (or 1/4 cup minced red onion or shallot)
1 stalk celery, diced

Scrub the potatoes, leaving the skins on. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place in a pot and cover with water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes, until slices are just tender.

While potatoes are cooking, make the dressing: Whisk together the mustard and vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking steadily. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the potato slices, saving 1/4 cup cooking water. Put the slices in a large bowl and pour the dressing over them. Stir together gently with a rubber spatula, adding a splash or two of the hot cooking water if it needs it. Stir in the green onion or other onions. Wait until just before serving to fold in the fresh herbs.

Makes 6 servings.


Wiley Coyote said...

Interesting recipe and story, yet the story and recipe do not match.

Second sentence says it is "jazzed up with pickle juice" yet there is no pickle juice mentioned in the ingredients or in the making of the potato salad dressing.

Some people may use sweet pickle juice while others may use dill or kosher dill juice.

How much? A teaspoon? Tablespoon?

At least we know it's Frence and not Southern, because there are no salad cubes listed in the ingredients.

Anonymous said...


Reading is fundamental! Her son hates mayo so this is what she serves as a substitute. Maybe if you weren't in such a hurry to scan and post you'd have figured that out on your own...

Wiley Coyote said...

And what does hating mayo have to do with not using pickle juice or Lawry's in the substitute version?

It reads either way.

Kim said...

Wiley, the pickle juice and Lawry's is in her grandmother's mayo-based potato salad recipe. Her son, however, hates mayo - so this recipe is a vinaigrette based salad, so no pickle juice, Lawry's or mayo.

Wiley Coyote said...

Use sour cream and yogurt instead of mayo and make it as close as possible to the original.

Anonymous said...

exSounds very similar to German potato salad.

Just add bacon and a little sugar, and it's magically German.

Anonymous said...

Google beaumont ranch potato salad, it is the bomb

Road Runner said...

I agree with the first 2 posts to Wiley Coyote. Beep Beep!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:30 has it right. It is a "true" German potato salad (not like the kind the at most German restaurants). But no sugar or bacon should be there for the authentic version. Waldhorn serves the real thing.