In the past couple of months I’ve celebrated Easter, Mother’s Day, and a birthday with some of my dearest friends — family, really — and I cooked for each occasion. Easter dinner was quite the affair, with a stunning pork crown roast for 20 (shout out to Goose the Market and Gunthorpe Farms), cornbread, sausage, apple and pecan stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, gravy, roasted asparagus, and a mango, raspberry, strawberry ice cream bombe with raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Mother’s Day was an intimate dinner for a dear friend and myself: roasted pork tenderloin, buttered noodles, asparagus, and a lemon caper pan sauce, followed by a decadent buttered pecan ice cream sundae. The birthday dinner was for 4 adults and two children; we enjoyed grilled sliders and grilled veggies, my mother’s “everything but the kitchen sink” potato salad, and a lemon chiffon pie with whipped cream and birthday candles.
Now, I remember all these meals and events in such detail for one very simple reason: they made the people I love happy. I remember the oohs and ahhs, I remember the smiles and the laughter as everyone filled their plates, I remember the eye-rolling and “yummy” sounds. I remember children hunting for Easter eggs and candy. I remember sunshine and sunsets, and dessert by candlelight. I remember going to bed tired and perfectly content. And I always will.
Such is the power of food and family gatherings.
Here’s hoping your culinary pursuits bear such amazing fruit for you as well.
Everything But the Kitchen Sink Potato Salad
Makes enough for one large happy family gathering (10 – 12 servings)
Don’t let this ingredient list stop you from adding anything else that sounds like it might taste good with potatoes, bacon and mayonnaise!
5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and 1/2″ diced
1 Tbspn coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
6 hardboiled eggs, peeled, the yolks set aside for dressing, the whites rough chopped
8 oz. bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
1 medium red onion diced
6 green onions, finely sliced
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 medium red pepper, cored and diced
1 medium green pepper, cored and diced
2 large, good quality dill pickles, diced
10-15 Spanish olives, sliced
10-15 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 generous Tbspn fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced chives, more crumbled bacon, and/or a sprinkle of sweet paprika for garnish (optional)
6 cooked egg yolks (see salad ingredients above)
1 Tbspn yellow mustard
1 Tbspn Dijon mustard
1 Tbspn sugar
2 tspn dried dill
1/2 tspn fresh ground pepper
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
Splash of dill pickle brine
1/4 – 12/ cup cider vinegar
For salad: Put the diced potatoes in a large Dutch oven or stock pot, add water to two inches above the potatoes, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to boil, add the kosher salt and stir thoroughly. Reduce heat to a simmer, and allow potatoes to cook until fork tender. Drain and return to warm pot. Sprinkle with the cider vinegar and gently toss to distribute among potatoes. Set aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
While the potatoes cool, prepare the dressing: In a medium size mixing bowl, mash the egg yolks together with the mustards, sugar, dill and ground pepper. Whisk in the mayonnaise and sour cream, then the dill pickle brine; combine thoroughly. Add the cider vinegar a little at a time and tasting as you go, until you get a thick creamy dressy with enough tartness to suit you.
When the potatoes are cool, move them to a very large mixing bowl and combine with the rest of the salad ingredients except for the final salt and pepper and garnishes. Using a large sturdy spoon or spatula, add the dressing and stir gently to evenly coat all the ingredients.
It’s best to make this salad a few hours ahead of time — or even the night before — and refrigerate to let the dressing soak into the potatoes and for flavors to combine. Set out at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly. Add garnishes, if using, just before serving.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
About the Author
Lorrie Wehr is an Indianapolis writer and sometimes-artist who believes sharing good food is the key to a good life.