Potato salad is a common side dish. It’s always at picnics, barbeques, Sunday dinners with fried chicken, and even in the deli section of the grocery store. Everybody makes potato salad and everybody has their own version of it. With or without onions and pickle relish, how much mustard, which type of potatoes, etc. It’s personal, so I want to share a very personal potato salad recipe with you from my mother, Gloria.
I’ve said on this blog and in the cookbook that I didn’t learn how to cook from my mom, my grandmother, my aunt or anybody while growing up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, because I wasn’t concerned with the “how-to” part. I was only concerned with the “when-are-we-gonna-eat-it” part, so all I did was show up for the food! Therefore I didn’t spend time with the treasured cooks in my life learning their tips, secrets, and techniques. I wish so badly I had because my grandmothers have passed on and I won’t have that chance again. And living seven hours away from my mom and my aunts doesn’t help me make up for lost time with them either. But I got an rare opportunity not too long ago to spend some time in the kitchen with Momma and I got to help her make her potato salad.
I was home in Hattiesburg for the weekend and we were going to my Aunt Jeanette’s house for her birthday celebration. My cousin Laura (who went to culinary school) was coming, so my aunt asked my mom to bring her potato salad because Laura likes it. Momma and I started on the dish that doesn’t have a set recipe-she does it all by taste, like a lot of cooks from her generation. She had the cast of ingredients, with the addition of one that doesn’t typically appear in potato salad-green peppers-and the omission of one that typically does-onions-because us kids don’t like them raw. I learned that mom prefers red potatoes and that her mother (my Nannie Broome) would combine the mustard and the mayo first in a separate bowl and then add it to the potatoes. The things you learn and the memories you make when you spend a little time with someone you love.
I’m so thankful for that day and the potato salad (and the birthday party, too) turned out beautifully, just as I’d remembered. I came home to Nashville and I’ve made it several times, trying to lock in measurements and ratios and I believe I’ve landed on the flavor profile that tastes like momma’s…though nothin’ ever really tastes the way your momma makes it, right? She’s not here to try it, but I think her discriminating taste buds would approve. Thank you, momma for always showing us love through the wonderful food you’ve made for us. I love you 🙂
So as you’re celebrating this 4th of July or any Sunday dinner around the table with family and friends, I hope a favorite of our family’s is enjoyed by you and yours.
***The pottery bowl in the photo is from a studio in Gatlinburg, TN–Fowlers Clay Works. We did a Top 20 Countdown shoot there and I did a little shopping, too! It’s so pretty and it’s perfect for potato salad because the lid will help keep the bugs away at a bbque or picnic. We were going to friends’ house for dinner one night recently and I put the bowl and lid in the fridge for a bit to get it nice and cold and then loaded up the potato salad to travel!
Gloria's Potato Salad
My mother's onion-free take on the classic American side dish!
3 pounds peeled red potatoes, cut into chunks (approximately 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches)
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup finely diced celery
a heaping 1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
In a large pot, boil potatoes in salted water until they are fork tender. Drain and spread potatoes out onto a tray or small baking sheet to cool.
While potatoes are still a little warm, pour them into a large mixing bowl and fold in eggs, celery and green pepper with a rubber spatula. Stir gently to blend.
Mix mayonnaise and mustard together in a small bowl and pour over potatoes. Fold in gently with the rubber spatula.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and celery salt evenly over potatoes and mix gently with rubber spatula.
Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Nan's Notes: I've been conservative with the amount of salt and pepper for this recipe since you can always add more, but you cannot remove it. I personally like more of both and with every portion I put on my plate, I grab the salt and pepper mill and grind out some more. Potatoes have to have salt and pepper and lots of it!! So feel free to increase those amounts to taste.
By Gloria Sumrall