I never really had a recipe for my family potato salad. I learned it from my mom and my aunt, and they learned it from their mother. My grandmother grew up in Pennsylvania, under the influence of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking (who are actually of German origin) and of her own parents I’m sure (also of German origin). The recipe has evolved a little bit over the years, to accomidate changes in taste and time periods, but the essential character of the recipe has stayed the same.
There is one point of contention within the recipe: pickles. My aunt prefers sweet pickles, and my mom and I prefer dill. No, it goes further than that: I actively dislike sweet pickles, and would never eat them on or in anything! So, when I make the potato salad, it has dill pickles. When my aunt makes it, it has sweet. I often offer to make the potato salad for family get-togethers for just this reason. But, whichever pickle you prefer, this is good potato salad!
Grandma’s Potato Salad
serves 12 – 18
- 3 lbs. red potatoes
- 6 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 med. onion
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 med pickle
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar or pickle juice
- 3/4 tsp celery seed
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Rinse the potatoes and cut any large ones in half so that they are all about the same size. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain and cool. I usually boil my eggs at this point as well if I don’t have any on standby in the fridge. Cool them too.
When cool enough to handle, cut up potatoes into bit sized pieces, and place in a large bowl. (There really isn’t any reason to peel the thin-skinned red potatoes, and who needs that extra step anyway?) Chop the eggs into about 1/2″ pieces (they will break up more while you are mixing the salad), and add to the bowl. Finely dice the onion, and chop the celery and pickle and add them too. On top of this pile of ingredients, add your mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar (or pickle juice), celery seed and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper as you see fit.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to two days before serving. It probably won’t last that long, but the flavors just get better the longer you let them sitting together.