Now that groceries are so obscenely expensive, I'm far less confident and creative in the kitchen. I follow recipes exactly as they're written because I'm too worried about something turning out bad and having to throw it out. I just can't afford that kind of waste when a sack of food costs $50.
So when I got a hankerin' for potato salad this past weekend I needed to find a recipe because I've never made it before. After a recommendation and research, I settled on "Myron Mixon's Killer Potato Salad." Apparently the guy is a famous chef and his potato salad is award-winning and stuff.
Anyway, as I was following the recipe to the letter, a number of questions popped up.
Like... the recipe says to boil the potatoes whole, then cut them up after cooking. This sounded silly to me. Potatoes are oddly-sized and cook unevenly. Wouldn't it be better to cut them into uniform pieces BEFORE boiling so they all cook at the same speed? But I didn't want to goof up so I did as the recipe instructed. The bigger ones ended up a bit tough in the center and the little ones were a bit mooshy, but whatever.
Like... the recipe says to add a tablespoon of salt to the dressing. This seemed excessive for two cups' worth of dressing. But, I didn't want to question an expert on how to season potato salad, so I did as the recipe instructed. My expensive potato salad ended up tasting like a salt lick, but whatever.
I spent a lot of money on the ingredients ($6.79 for a tiny bottle of dill alone!) so I didn't want to throw it out. But eating it was out of the question because my lips were burning from all the salt. My solution was to make another batch of salt-free potato salad and mix the two batches. But this time I cut the potatoes before boiling. And I seasoned to taste instead of by measure. Now it tastes great!
And now I've got a shit-load of potato salad in the refrigerator. I'm going to be eating the stuff every day for a month. And yet, I'm okay with that because I didn't have to throw anything in the garbage...
I guess sometimes when the ingredients are expensive, it pays to question the recipe.
I guess sometimes when the stakes are high, it pays to break the rules.
I guess sometimes when the situation is bad, you have to start over.
I guess sometimes I need to be reminded of that.
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Or…you could just do what I did on the weekend, 2 cans of diced ALREADY cooked potatoes, chopped celery and green onion,shredded carrot and minced pickle, couple teaspoons of mayo, salt and pepper to taste and presto, potato salad in 10 mins lol
May not be world renowned potato salad but it works for me!
LOL! You are so right about cutting the potatoes before boiling. It also cuts boiling time and you can cut out bad spots beforehand! Glad you made it work!
I guess instinct always trumps recipes. It sounds good (minus the salt)!
When it comes to salt and butter, I almost never use the amount that the recipes state. Always seems like too much. If I was making that recipe I probably would have only used a tsp of salt for the dressing. You can always add some later if it doesn’t taste right. You can’t take it out.
…sometimes when the stakes are high, it pays to break the rules.
That sounds like the tagline to every horrible action movie ever made.
I cook the potatoes whole and remove them as they are done. The larger ones usually need about 5 more minutes. I find that cubing the potatoes first leads to mushy-ness. Remember to always start with cold water when cooking potatoes!
Salt – go with your instincts! It is always easier to add salt later than to take it out. I just use a pinch of salt.
Dill – some stores let you buy herbs in bulk so you can buy what you need. Or you can buy fresh and buy less also.
I don’t cook, but my husband does. He rarely follows recipies exactly and things have always come out delicious.
I’ve learned to mind my own business about his not following the recipes, and just eat. 🙂
I do the same stupid-ass thing. I think “That CAN’T be right!” and then “But it is in the recipe!” and end up kicking myself when it tastes crappy. You’d think by now I’d be smarter, but you’d be wrong.
The reason to boil them whole is to keep the potatoes from absorbing too much water. You can avoid this problem by cutting them up and steaming them instead of boiling.
Dill: go to the nursery and buy a plant for $1.50. You’ll probably kill it sooner or later, but I usually get far more tasty fresh dill than I would if I bought fresh cut dill, and damn the kind in the bottle is expensive, isn’t it? My mom & I found out why when we dehydrated a massive bunch and it made about a tablespoon of dried dill.
I also buy a fresh cilantro and a fresh italian parsley plant every once in a while. Fresh herbs are the bomb and make you seem so dang domestic.
Maybe the chef was a smoker. I find smokers always need more salt, pepper and seasoning to make food taste “normal”.
My wife and I didn’t even own salt and pepper shakers for years… we’d have people over for dinner and they’d ask us to pass the salt… and we were like “umm, it’s in the pantry? In the big Morton’s container? What’s so wrong with my cooking that you need to butcher it with SALT?!?!?”.
Then I figured it was their taste buds; not my cooking.
Food NEEDS salt! I like a lot of it, and am heartbroken when an otherwise-perfect item, like a salad, is under seasoned. But a tbsp seems like a a ton!
Tip for lazy-a*s potato salad that turns out great: nuke your potatoes, then dice them. It keeps all the starch in so they’re firm, rich and creamy, and it’s easier than boiling. I nuke two huge potatoes (separately) and it makes enough potato salad to last me a week.