Potato salad is one of the easiest and most beloved dishes of summer: a soft and creamy mix that anchors any grilled, fried or steamed menu of the season. But that doesn’t guarantee that every potato salad will be good. Sadly, there are an awful lot of attempts gone wrong out there — mushy, bland, overdressed and generally unappealing.
The good news is, it’s just as easy to make a terrific potato salad as it is to make a terrible one, once you understand a few of the finer points of putting it all together.
Having mixed up hundreds of potato salads over summers past, I’ve learned some principles that apply to any variation, whether you’re sticking to the classic mayonnaise-swathed recipe or looking for something off the beaten track.
Are you feeling like something classic, but with a garlicky twist? Substitute homemade aioli for regular mayonnaise.
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Garlic Aioli Potato Salad
Yield: 8 servings
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice, more as needed
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
Black pepper, as needed
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, for garnish
Place 2 eggs in a small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat and cover for 8 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and dice small.
Meanwhile, combine grated garlic, salt and lemon juice in a blender, and pulse a few times to combine. Pulse in remaining egg and the large egg yolk. With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until completely incorporated and mayonnaise is thick. Scrape into a bowl and fold in sour cream. Fold in celery and red onion.
Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. Drain and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with diced boiled eggs and 2/3 of the dressing. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving, toss with some of the remaining dressing to taste (if desired). Season with black pepper and add more salt if necessary. Sprinkle with chives.