We’re not exactly sure what qualifies this potato salad as “old-fashioned.” Perhaps it merits this distinction because it tastes like a family recipe that has been handed down through the ages — complicated and difficult to make, with well-kept secret ingredients? Or maybe it’s because, as recipe author Ina Garten points out in her book, “Barefoot Contessa at Home,” during the 18 years that she owned her namesake specialty food store, they “must have made millions of pounds of this classic potato salad.” No matter the reason, we’ve added this salad into our permanent side dish rotation, especially for the upcoming Spring/Summer grilling season. With complex, yet complimentary flavors from 2 types of mustard, fresh dill, red onion, celery and potato, the recipe is surprisingly simple to make, especially given how good it tastes. It can be made ahead (and should be, in order to give the flavors time to combine), making it even more ideal for the BBQ-friendly months of the year. We predict at least tens of pounds of this salad in our foreseeable side dish future.
Start by placing about a pound and a half of unpeeled, small red potatoes (we cut the original recipe in half) in a pot of salted water and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are barely tender — about 10-15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then place them back in the empty pot, cover the pot and allow the potatoes to steam (off the heat) until tender but firm — about 15-20 minutes.
Make the dressing by whisking together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or you could use milk or white wine), 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper.
When the potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut them into quarters (or halves, if the potatoes are particularly tiny.) Place the potatoes in a large bowl and gently toss them with the dressing, taking care not to smash them.
Chop the celery and onion (about 1/2 cup worth of each.)
Add the celery and onion to the potatoes and gently toss. Adding the veggies in a separate step, after tossing the potatoes with the dressing, keeps the veggies from getting overly coated with dressing and becoming soggy. Refrigerate the salad for a couple of hours to blend the flavors.
We served the potato salad with smoked BBQ chicken, for a meal evoking summertime grilling in all its glory. Looks like a couple of somebody’s are more than ready for warm weather in Texas! (with sincere apologies to any still-snowed-in family and friends.)