Almost every American family has its favorite memories of the 4th of July. Maybe it’s fireworks in your hometown, picnics at the beach, a local carnival or maybe a concert in the park. My memories are mixed. Yes, happy simpler times, with family and friends — but mixed with some rather awkward memories from a fat girl who was just a little too old to wear a paper plate hat for 4th of July parades at home with her cousins.
Awkward as I might have felt these are still very fond memories of the 4th of July — hanging out with my cousins, letting our moms and aunts dress us up for a parade, having our own little 4th of July Queen contests, and riding through little almost abandon towns on the back an old convertible — doing our best queen waves and wearing 60’s flowered hats.
After our parade there would always be a picnic and the star of the show was always Aunt Margaret’s Potato Salad. As many a recipe, Aunt Margaret didn’t write this recipe down — she kept it in her head. In the quest to make the perfect potato salad the summer my son was a senior in high school I made 75 pounds. This is pretty gosh darn close. It never is quite as good when I only make 5 pounds, which makes no sense at all, but maybe my 6th-grade math skills aren’t so good anymore.
Tips I remember from helping her make it for weddings:
Always use red potatoes, at least 10 pounds, never use mayonnaise, buy the cheap store brand salad dressing (we were poor, no name brands for our family) use the whole quart, a dozen boiled eggs give or take, a couple of chopped onions, add some sugar and vinegar to your salad dressing, squirt in a generous amount of mustard. Taste it — adjust as necessary — Salt and pepper to taste. Simple ingredients, but not so simple to pull off.
A note here to let you know — Aunt Margaret’s potato salad was famous — she even sold it in the neighborhood grocery store — so the quest to duplicate for future generations became an obsession.
- 10 pounds red potatoes
- 1-quart salad dressing or Mayo -- whatever you like best or have on hand
- 8 to 12 boiled eggs -- I prefer 8, the more you use the drier your salad will be
- 2 large white salad onions -- sweet ones are nice also
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 3 to 6 TBSP yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with paprika and/or fresh chopped parsley
- Potatoes: Peel and dice into 1" cubes, boil in salted water until fork soft - about 15 to 20 minutes -- watch closely so they stay firm. Ideally, chill overnight. **This is the quickest way to do the potatoes, but my preferred way is to boil red potatoes with skins on -- let them cool in the fridge and then peel and dice -- I think the flavor is better, but it does take longer.
- Eggs: Cover eggs with cold water, bring to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat. Let sit 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Cool and ideally chill overnight.
- If you can not prepare the potatoes and eggs the day before you put the salad together, cool both to at least room temperature and chill as long as possible before you put it together.
- Peel eggs place yokes in a deep bowl for the dressing. Dice the whites and mix into potatoes.
- Finely dice onions. Mix into potato and egg whites.
- Dressing: Mash egg yokes and add salad dressing, sugar, vinegar, and mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add dressing to potato mixture. Chill at least 2 hours -- preferably overnight.
- Potato salad is one of those foods that tastes better when it has a chance for the flavors to meld together so I highly recommend chilling overnight.