I get more compliments for my potato salad than any other dish. It’s a deep South version, I must admit, but that’s not to say I don’t like the creamy New Orleans-style with fewer ingredients.
The local spud recipe is mixed hot, more like mashed potatoes, while the key to my mother’s Memphis-style version is cooling the potatoes first to keep the main ingredient in whole pieces. I cheat a little by mashing one potato to add a creamy touch.
Either way, you’ve got the perfect side dish for anything you serve at Carnival parties. Potato salad pairs perfectly with brisket, fried chicken, gumbo and finger sandwiches. Some people even put it in their gumbo, but I prefer gumbo without mayonnaise. Some misguided Memphis upbringing, I suppose.
I always make potato salad when my husband’s high school friend visits. We eat it for dinner and by the next morning, it has all disappeared.
But that’s not the only dish in demand on Mardi Gras. We now have Hubig pies back to go with our Popeye’s fried chicken. Our host for many parades has his personalized theme stamped on each pie. We New Orleanians are a stubborn lot. When something disappears from our diet, we find a way to get it back. Remember Creole cream cheese? And McKenzie’s king cakes that survived the closing of McKenzie’s.
This year we’ll probably see a few Popeye’s chicken sandwiches on the streets and, yes, they go perfectly with potato salad. When they came out a few months ago, Popeye’s had to stop selling them for a while to catch up with demand. Good luck, Popeye’s. Get your fryers rollin’.
Another item that disappears quickly from a parade party buffet is the deviled eggs. You can’t make enough of those for a boisterous crowd. And peeled shrimp with cocktail sauce and toothpicks. Put a plate of those down and a tornado hits it.
I know that king cakes are everywhere you look. But, really, how much king cake can a person eat? I figure most partiers will take king cake, chips-and-dip or crackers with some kind of cheese. So, if I’m not taking brisket, one of my regulars, I like to focus on something like stuffed celery or salad. It can be a welcome treat for carb-laden buffets. One thing for sure, whatever you take to a parade party will get eaten because everybody’s hungry during the season.
So go ahead and double this potato salad recipe.
6 large russet potatoes
6 large eggs, boiled
1 medium kosher pickle, chopped
3 tablespoons pimentos or roasted red peppers, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon celery salt
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1. Boil potatoes in a large pot until fork tender. Peel when cool enough to handle. Mash 1 potato with a fork. Cut remaining potatoes into ½-inch cubes and let them cool. Save 1 egg for decorating top of potato salad and chop remaining 5.
2. Place mashed potato in bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add cooled chopped potato and chopped eggs. Add onions, bell pepper and celery and toss.
3. Add remaining ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly. Place in serving bowl. Decorate top with horizontal slices of remaining egg and thin strips of bell pepper and pimento or roasted bell peppers. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Serves 8 to 10
Note: To maximize nutritional value of potato salad, use red potatoes and leave the skins on.
Potato salad is believed to have originated in Germany as well as other parts of Europe. Germans serve the salad hot with a different dressing. Americans usually serve it cold or at room temperature.