A little Throwback Thursday recipe for everyone: my Nana’s French potato salad. My “French Fridays with Dorie” followers are probably already wondering, is that in Dorie’s book and what makes it French? Excellent question. My Nana is Polish, grew up in Wisconsin, and to my recollection has never been to France. She’s not known as the best cook in our family, but she is known for her jello molds and for always having some sort of baked goods to serve when you visit. (It’s a somewhat unfair statement to make since there are a lot of great cooks in our family, so competition is fierce.) She does love to clip recipes and collect them from friends and neighbors, so we can only assume that this recipe made its way into her kitchen sometime after she was married and raising her family.
As to what makes it French? Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps its the tangy from vinegar, yet a bit sweet from sugar, cooked dressing. Maybe its the mustard and mayonnaise or the additional richness of butter (yes butter!). Perhaps it as just the recipe writer’s idea of how to add a classy twist to a picnic standard to improve its marketing.
Regardless of how its got its name, this recipe has been handed down and still turns up at meals and festivities. It’s rich and creamy, with a good balance of flavors. The recipe is full of ingredients that will bring you back to the days before we through about good or bad carbs, dairy, butter, and sugar. Don’t skimp on the ingredients or try to make alterations – it won’t be the same dish. Make as a treat for those meals with friends and family where looking back, as well as forward, is an inevitable part of the gathering ritual. Enjoy.
French Potato Salad
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
4 Tablespoons of butter
3/4 teaspoon of butter
3/4 teaspoon of celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard/mustard powder
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
7-9 medium sized red potatoes – abut 2 pounds
2-3 hard cooked eggs (optional)
2-3 radishes, sliced (optional)
The day before you make the salad, boil the potatoes in their skins. Potatoes should still be firm, but cooked through. Cool overnight and then peel and slice. Cook and peel your eggs if using. Combine the first nine ingredients, everything except the onion and mayonnaise, in a saucepan. Stir the ingredients as they cook over a medium low heat and cook until they thicken. Remove from the heat. Stir in the onion and mayonnaise and cool. (Typically, I cool this in the fridge. It may develop a slight skin, but that will not matter in the final dish). Combine the sliced cooked potatoes with the cooled dressing, garnish with eggs and radishes if using. Cool completely in the fridge before serving.
Tips on the recipe:
- Yes, add the onion and mayo when the dressing is still warm. The warm dressing will take some of the edge off the sharpness of the raw onion.
- The only alteration I have ever made in this recipe successfully, with out changing flavor or texture of the dressing, was to reduce the amount of sugar and replace SOME of it with sugar substitute.
- Overnight cooling of the cooked potatoes will ensure the potato pieces hold together firmly in the salad once they are sliced.