Potato salads are the mainstay of any barbecue, picnic or summer feast.
The perfect accompaniment to grilled or smoked meats such as beef, sausages or chicken, they can be served as a side or a substantial main meal.
Once you know how to make a potato salad, the choice of dressings and ingredients is absolutely endless.
A simple potato salad can be put together with a dash of vinaigrette dressing and a few herbs.
A salad packed with vegetables, egg and diced meats is a meal in itself.
But the perfect potato salad begins with the right choice of potato and cooking it just right. Learn how.
Use a waxy potato with a high moisture content. The variety you use will depend on where you live. Choose potatoes that are firm and avoid those that have blemishes, are soft, green in color or are sprouting.
Scrub your potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt.
Either cook the potatoes whole or cut into evenly-sized smaller pieces. This ensures even cooking. Leave the skins on as this helps them to hold their shape.
The best cooking method is boiling. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. This lets them cook gradually and prevents the skins from splitting.
Turn the heat on high while you bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium.
Cook the potatoes in simmering water until they are still slightly firm. This usually takes between 10 – 15 minutes depending on their size.
Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. There is no need to rinse them under cold water.
Peel and dice the potatoes while they are still warm.
Whether you allow the potatoes to cool before you add the dressing depends on the type of dressing used. If using a vinaigrette dressing the potatoes can be dressed while warm. Hot potatoes absorb liquid, so the dressing will soak into the potatoes enhancing the flavor of the salad.
But this doesn’t work with mayonnaise. Allow the potatoes to cool before coating with mayonnaise.
Potato salads can be prepared a day in advance. Keep them covered and refrigerated and dress them just before serving.