Mimi’s Potato Salad is, of course my favorite- though I have to admit that any Southern cook worth her salt generally has a recipe that is her family’s favorite too! And, it’s crazy, yet many southerners add potato salad to their meals almost all year round! Mimi didn’t. She considered it a Spring and Summer side dish or even put a scoop on a plate and with a few extras like tomatoes and crackers, she considered potato salad to be a light lunch or a cool supper. Here’s the thing. Mimi was particular about her food and the way it was prepared and for what reason and why. She instilled things like this into my brain- I can still hear her now…
‘ Now, grate that onion! Who wants to bite down on a big chunk of onion in their potato salad!’ Then later she would say- ‘Grate those boiled eggs on the coarse side of the grater!’ Why? Boiled eggs can look unattractive if they aren’t perfect and especially unattractive all mixed up ‘with a mess of potatoes’. Also Mimi simply liked the look of the coarse grated boiled eggs! Don’t ask me why. I was just a simple soldier and followed my orders.
Mimi’s Potato Salad was singularly simple with few ingredients. Many southern cooks add other things to theirs, which is fine and also tastes wonderful. Still. If a recipe is the flavor from your childhood or family- I believe we tend to enjoy our own version the best! Mimi used russet potatoes, in spring, she sometimes combined new potatoes and russets, making sure they weren’t peeled yet were cut to approximately the same size. There’s an art to it- unpeeled potatoes hold their shape better, then it’s easy to slip the skins off after they’ve been brought to fork tender, definitely not overcooked! Cut the cooked and peeled potatoes into approximately the same size for the potato salad. (If the potatoes were overcooked? Start over. You don’t want mashed potato salad.)
While the potatoes are cooking, grate the onion and mix up the dressing of good mayonnaise, yellow mustard and spices. Now, Mimi’s rule for the celery was to either do a fine dice or thinly sliced. You might not want to bite down on a big chunk of onion, yet the celery gave her potato salad a subtle flavor with just the right amount of crunch and a pretty color. Again, I followed orders. My mother did too! Mimi boiled her eggs along with the potatoes- claimed the calcium from the egg shells made potato salad healthier. Who knows? I do it too. Gently mix the potatoes into the dressing and chill. This made the potatoes firm up and gave the flavors time to develop. Here’s how you make Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad:
Mimi’s Classic Potato Salad
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes- scrubbed and washed
- 2 large eggs – boiled, peeled and grated
- 1 -2 stalks celery- fine sliced or diced
- 1-2 tbs finely grated onion with juice
- 3/4 – 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1-2 teas yellow mustard
- 1/4 teas cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil potatoes with skins on until fork tender, not over cooked. Allow potatoes to cool slightly, slip skins off of potatoes and dice into approximately 3/4 inch cubes or slightly larger. Finely slice or fine dice celery. Grate onion reserving juice as well. In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, yellow mustard, grated onion and cayenne, until combined. Add diced potatoes and celery, toss gently so as not to break cubed potatoes, add diced celery. Toss gently to combine. Chill. Flavors will develop. Serve with a sprinkle of paprika if desired. This recipe doubles well.
With the spring and summer get togethers in full swing, I think you’ll enjoy Mimi’s Potato Salad, feel free to put whatever you want to in it. Some like pickles or olives. I personally will still be following orders… I sure wouldn’t want to think Mimi was rolling over in her grave if I didn’t! Oh me…
Love y’all, Camellia *all photographs are obviously mine!
8 thoughts on “Mimi’s Potato Salad…”
I was wondering if there was mayonnaise in your potato salad and was curious as to what the brand would be. I think you may have sidestepped that debate by calling for a good qualify mayonnaise. I remember reading about the great southern mayonnaise debate. Duke’s and was it’s competitor Hellman’s?
Mimi made her own- if she bought mayonnaise- she checked ingredients… for lemon juice! There’s a brand here called Bama – appropriate right? It has lemon juice …that’s the main thing I look for, even some store brands have it… If there wasn’t enough lemon juice, for some recipes she added more in- for example her simple dressing for salads…was just good mayonnaise plus lots of lemon juice, cracked pepper and a bit of salt. Sorry for the long answer! Yes the debate rages on…for me? It’s the ingredient list not the label! 🍋
Fascinating. Love your answer. Not what I was expecting.
Oh I love that! 😀 it was rarely about the brand with Mimi!
Picnic time! 👏🌿
Yes ma’am! 😂🍃😂🍃
You are right about the potatoes. It’s all about the potatoes! I hate to go to a picnic where someone cooked them the same way they cook potatoes for mashing. Yikes! Having said that up here in our little corner we don’t do mayonnaise (blasphemy?). We do a cooked bacon dressing but everything else is the same. I am curious about grated eggs. I’ve never done that thinking it would mash them like potatoes. I’ll try that. Love her take on grating onion too. We don’t put it in for that very reason. I always enjoy your recipes.
Thank you Kate! As always you make me hungry for your version! Sounds amazing! No it’s not blasphemy- in fact there are several recipes here that call for sort of marinating the potatoes- ! Hard boiled eggs especially if they are chilled are so much better to me if grated than if chopped, I’d love for you to let me know what you think! I make egg salad like Mimi’s by grating them also. Oh my yes! Hard and fast rule to grate those onions…I have a theory that doing that and adding the bit of juice could very well have been her ‘secret’ – she did that in a good many recipes! You are soo kind! Love you dearly. 🥰