Cooking Potatoes for Potato Salad

caboodleFebruary 5, 2009

How do you cook your potatoes when making potato salad. I'm using russet potatoes, fyi. It seems like when I boil them whole in the skin like the outside is overcooked by the time I get the inside cooked.

Is there a trick to do this better like chunking up the potatoes before cooking or is this just the nature of potato salad? Or is it just me?


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Well, first of all, I don't care for russets for potato salad so I'm not sure what is the best way to cook them. But, if the red or white potatoes I usually use are too big, I have that same problem, so I generally make potato salad from smaller potatoes. Of course, I don't peel my potatoes for salad, as I like the flavor of the skins.

In general, I think boiling potatoes isn't the best idea, I think simmering them works better even if it takes a bit longer. Also, I remove the potatoes from the water just before they are really tender all the way through and rinse them in cold water briefly. This way, the outside stops cooking, but the residual heat finishes cooking the inside.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 11:33AM
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I love russets for potato salad....I peel and cube befor boiling them.....then when they are done, I drain well, toss with a little salt, dump them into the dressing, which Iw as making while the potatoes were boiling....and pop it all into the refrig.
Warm potatoes absorb the derssing much better than cold ones do.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I use russets too and do as Linda does, peel and cut into large cubes, maybe six from a large russet, four from a small one. Also toss in the dressing while still warm, not hot, and then add more when I finish the salad off.

I can't wait for Summer, just can't ever get my head around potato salad in the Winter !

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:25PM
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I do as Linda and Chase.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:30PM
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Like Linda, I peel and cube the potatoes prior to cooking. They are easier to peel and cut, they cook faster and there is no problem with inconsistent doneness. You need to watch them carefully. They can go from done to mush in a minute. And allow for the fact that they continue to cook even after draining. I dump them in a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. You can even toss a few ice cubes in with them.

I prefer red potatoes for potato salad. If they are attractive ones, I leave the skins on.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:34PM
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Doesn't help you for today, but I love to use baked potatoes if I'm using russets. Toss in a few extras when cooking others for dinner or when something is baking. Cube those up and use.

Or roast baby thin skin ones in EVOO and s&p. Let cool and cut in half and use those.(I have a ziploc of baby roasteds that I did last night..just for potato salad this weekend.)
Course I snuck a few out, for "fried" this morning. :o)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:41PM
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For a small amout, I have nuked them ( a lot faster ).
But you have to keep an eye on them.
After about 2 min. take out the smaller ones that are done and do the others a few more seconds.
Rote them as they are cooking.
Then I let them cool, peel them and cut them to size.

I do this for Home Fries, Stir Fries, and Omelets, also.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:42PM
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Russets are the only potatoes I use for potato salad. I make mine just like Linda and Sharon. I'm very picky about potato salad and don't like it made with waxy potatoes. I like a dressing made with sour cream, hellmans , dijon mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and dill or chives.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:49PM
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Like Linda, Chase and Jim, I peel and cube the potatoes before cooking them, and I always put the dressing on warm potatoes because I think they absorb more of the flavor. I do have to be diligent about not overcooking the potatoes, though, or they just mush up when I try to toss them in the dressing.

I really prefer the red potatoes, small, with the skins on. I seem to be the only one in the family that likes potato salad better this way, though, so I usually go with the russets.

I do have a "southwestern" kind of recipe that isn't creamy, I'm going to give that a try next, I think. It also has corn and black beans and jalapeno, so I guess it isn't really potato salad in the traditional sense of the word.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:51PM
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I prefer cooking whole small russet potatoes so they won't be waterlogged. I peel while hot, cut up and toss in onion, celery, oil, salt, wine vinegar and pepper while hot so they will absorb the flavors better. If I'm using mayo I wait and add it when they are cooler.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 8:13PM
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I like using Yukon Gold potatoes. I cut the potatoes into what ever size I want and then boil,after draining the potatoes put them back in cooking pot and slide back and forth over the burner to evaporate excess moisture in the potatoes and then add dressing while the potatoes are still hot. have all of your ingredients prepared so you can add them as soon as the potatoes are done.

Aldi sells 5 lb. sacks of small Yukon Golds that range in size from golf ball up to about tennis ball for $1.99

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:08PM
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Reds for me too. Skin on or off but there has to be some pickle juice in the dressing.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:10PM
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Thank you all for the tips. I'm going to try a variety of them and see which seem to work best for me.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:21AM
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I am with you, David. I simmer medium red potatoes in their skins, and peel them while they are hot. I like Del Monte sweet pickle relish in my potato salad.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:56PM
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I like baby reds for potatoe salad too. They make great German potato salad too. I'm on board for relish too, I think it adds a nice falovor and acid.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:05AM
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I use Russerts but I dont peel them and I start them in a cold water pot w/ a touch of salt and a cap of vinegar. When they are cooked i actually drain & then refrigerate 1 hour then i peel and slice very thin then I put it in a brine overnight and then drain and dress it. Typically mine is a old school NY Deli Poatato Salad.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:13AM
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I love the taste of potatoes, so to retain that good flvor I like to steam (jackets on) until *just* becoming tender. Or, baked; Rub skins with some olive oil before baking.

Waxy is better than mealy for potato salad. Fingerlings are ideal!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:17AM
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I use red or Yukon Gold for my potato salad. Leave the skins on they have a lot of favor. Toss them while there still warm to absorb the dressing.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:30AM
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Thank you all so much for suggestions. I can't believe there are so many ways to boil potatoes for potato salad. :)


    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 9:30AM
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I prefer to use larger sized redskin potatoes, boiled with the skins on and then peeled. If I'm using russets, I peel and cube them and steam in the microwave.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:34PM
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If your potates are overcooked on the outside and firm on the inside, you need to start them in COLD salted water and then bring to a boil. Nice uniform cosistancy is the result.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 9:12PM
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Ruthanna: I'm glad I peeped back in here.
I thought I was the only one who used the microwave.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 11:14PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Well, I guess I'm just a midwestern gal who likes waxy (red, white or yukon gold) potatoes cooked in their skin, peeled when you can handle them and cut into 1/2-3/4" pieces. A little finely chopped onion, celery, a sprinkle of vinegar, several finely chopped hard boiled eggs, and enough mayo to hold it all together. No relish. Just add some chives or finely chopped parsley, and top with yet more sliced hard boiled eggs. Yummmmmmm.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 1:25AM
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Well I guess I'm just not a midwest guy but I like them like that.
I like them any way I can get them.
Guess like women.
I don't know what all the fuss is about

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:14AM
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Annie, did you try that southwestern recipe yet? That sounds good. An interesting twist! I'm interested in that.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:51PM
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I peel and cut my potatoes up before cooking them. I use salad dressing and mustard in my potato salad. I like it warm to eat, can't stand it after it has been in the refrigerator and gotten ice cold.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 3:57PM
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In our restaurant we cooked 50 pounds a day, the vast majority for potato salad. I would heep them high in a BIG pot that had a strainer insert almost the same size (about three inches between the bottom of the strainer to the bottom of the pot). That left enough room for about 20 pounds of washed but not peeled russetts. I'd heap them high and cover the top with foil. I don't remember the timing now but it seems to have been between 20 and 40 minutes. I played hot potato hand laying them in a single layer on a couple full size sheet pans to cool a little. It had to be hand done as pouring them out would damage them.

The reason I didn't peel first is because of how fast one can peel a hot potato- 3 or 4 times faster than raw. Towel over one hand holding the potato, using a serrated staeak knife, it's amazing how fast a person can peel a big batch of spuds.

The crucial point was to let them cool completely (cold) before dicing them, to keep shape without crumbling. The final step was using a hand held dicer(a metal frame with tennis racket style wire weaving.)

This technique works great for the huge batches, and a couple generations of customers kept coming back for more.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 4:26PM
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I am another who prefers waxy (red or yukon gold) potatoes for potato salad. Russets seem a bit too "mealy" to me for salad.

I sometimes boil them whole and then peel, but if I am in a hurry, I'll cube them, skin on, and cook them that way.

No pickle juice or relish in my salad, thank you very much. I prefer mine without, and am not sure what they put in store-bought potato salad that makes it sweet, but I hate that, too!


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 9:47PM
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How do the supermarkets get that rubbery consistency of the potatoes in their salad? I don't want to do it. Just curious.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 10:44PM
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You are funny, Jim! And how do they get all those black ones in there too? I don't want to make it that way, just wondering!
I like potato salad with a little zip, so a bit of powdered mustard and some sweet pickle just added in..
But I'll try whatever potato salad is offered, if it is homemade..
When I was kid we used to go through the potato field after they harvested and pick up all the small ones they left behind..and then my great aunt would make them into salad. They were Long Island potatoes, and we sure got dirty doing it! :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:10PM
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