It’s always fun to read online food stories and ensuring comments prior to major holidays, and Easter is no exception. It was no surprise to learn that a large picnic ham will be the main focus of most Americans’ Easter Sunday feast. The challenge is finding the appropriate side dishes to complement the star of the table. In my opinion, nothing beats some type of potato dish. In the past, I’ve made a stuffed hash brown casserole filled with a variety of meats and cheeses for my family’s dinner. This year, I’m in the mood for good, old-fashioned potato salad. The challenge lies in narrowing down one from my list of favorites.
Because, contrary to popular belief, there are actually quite a few varieties of potato salad out there. As you’d expect, the differences are primarily found north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line and from East Coast to West. First up for consideration is genuine, tried-and-true Southern potato salad, the likes of which grace many a Southern cookout, potluck, church dinner, and Easter table. I’ve added a couple of modern touches that were probably not in my grandmother’s version.
To make it, boil, peel, and cube two pounds of potatoes and set aside to cool. Boil two eggs, and when they’re cool, peel and chop. Set aside with the potatoes. In a large serving bowl, combine three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, cup of chilled and chopped bread and butter pickle chips (reserve juice for later), 3/4 cup of chopped celery, half a cup of finely chopped white onions (optional), cup of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of mustard (yellow or Dijon), half cup of minced fresh chives, half teaspoon of ground black pepper, and a pinch of paprika. Stir in potatoes and eggs, mix thoroughly.
To finish off this perennial salad that’ll feed 6 to 8 guests, add a drizzle of pickle juice. This is totally optional, but to me, it’s what really makes potato salad special, especially if the juice is coming from a jar of my homemade pickles. Sprinkle with a few more chopped chives and a little paprika, and your potato salad will shine almost as brightly as the ham.
My northern friends shared a recipe for potato salad given to them from the owner of a New York deli. As you might imagine, it’s quite a bit different from our Southern version, but every bit as good.
Boil three pounds of red potatoes until tender, then dice into quarters or cubes. Make a vinegar base by heating a fourth of a cup of apple cider vinegar in a small pan over medium high heat along with two tablespoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. When sugar is dissolved, add a cup of water, stir and set aside. Chop a half pound of corned beef in a food processor until finely diced.
Transfer the meat to a serving bowl and add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of ground black pepper. Add the potatoes, two tablespoons of yellow mustard, quarter cup of finely-chopped lettuce and last, stir in the vinegar base. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
They’re definitely worth the time and effort it takes to make them, but if time is running out on the night before Easter, make this shortcut version that’s a crowd-pleaser without the need to peel potatoes. Whichever version you choose, make sure to enjoy the rest of Holy Week and have a wonderful Easter!
Easy No-Peel Loaded Potato Salad
2 pounds new red potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
16 ounce container sour cream
1-ounce package ranch dressing mix
6-8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, or cup of Bacon or other bacon bits; reserve 1/2 cup
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
+2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
Thoroughly scrub 2-4 pounds of new potatoes and cut off any growths or rough spots. Boil until tender, and with skins on, half and quarter the cooled potatoes and place in a large serving bowl.
Combine sour cream and ranch dressing mix in a small bowl until well-blended. Add sour cream mixture, bacon, Cheddar cheese, and green onions to the cooled potatoes and stir until well blended, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with more bacon bits.